Controversial plans for a children’s home in Acklam are set to be altered to cater for adults in care.

Earlier this year, Courtyard Care Ltd was granted planning permission change a large home on Low Lane in Acklam into a five-bedroom residential care facility for up to six children aged between seven and 18. It is not yet operational.

However a planning application has now been submitted for a change of use, to allow the home to accommodate adults.

A report prepared for Courtyard Care said the service generally intended for the home is to assist the transition of residents between the child-care and adult-care regimes, following “a change in commissioning priorities from Middlesbrough Social Services.” The service would “typically” be offered to those aged 16 to 25 years.

“There there will inevitably be at least some adults (over 18 years of age) included within the proposed form of service and, given the nature of the services which Middlesbrough Council are keen to see, potentially people even a few years older,” said the report.

The Coventry-based company provides “high quality flexible and responsive residential care and support for people with learning disabilities, autism, acquired brain injuries, mental health support needs and other complex care needs to live life to the full.”

“Our adult residents will generally be from Teesside and, as such, will be encouraged to use local community facilities and will develop local interests with a strong correlation towards wider integration including input to voluntary activities in the community,” said the company’s statement.

“Middlesbrough Social Services have already identified a number of adult individuals who they are keen to place at Low Lane in order to meet long-term local needs to provide residential care.

The report said there will be “markedly fewer instances of disturbance or forms of potentially anti-social behaviour with an adult resident group which is inherently more stable and less turbulent than adolescents, particularly in the case of longer term placements which is very much the objective with the adult proposal.”

The plan is being currently assessed by a council planning officer and residents have been notified.

On Tuesday, Independent Cllr Jim Platt said he had been made aware of the proposal by a resident. He said he is investigating the plans and has requested a meeting with Cllr Zafar Uddin, Executive member for children’s services, to discuss the plan.

As reported, the issue of children’s homes was brought up at a meeting of the full council last week. Nunthorpe ward councillor, Mieka Smiles, said the previous administration had a plan in place to look at buying up properties to be used as children’s homes. “What progress has been made since May on buying children’s homes?” she asked.

The Mayor of Middlesbrough, Cllr Chris Cooke, said two properties had been bought but were not open yet. He said they wanted to reduce the demand in children’s services as increasing provision “doesn’t fix that problem”.

The meeting heard the cost of children’s care accounts for nearly 40per cent of the council’s forecast £8.5m overspend against its approved budget for the second quarter of the financial year.

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Noting the multi-million pound overspend in children’s services last year, Cllr Platt told the Local Democracy Reporting service said: “That’s why the council is in trouble, not because of the last four years where Independent and Conservatives were in charge. It was mainly the children’s overspend of £10m.

“And it’s going to get worse. I’ve been banging on about this since I was elected four years ago. We have to have our own houses [for children] and our own staff and that will cut costs dramatically.”