Concerns have been raised over plans to turn a residential house in Middlesbrough into a home for children aged nine to 17.

A planning application been submitted by Highfield (North East) Ltd to provide accommodation for up to five young people at the property on Dixons Bank in the Marton area.

If accepted by Middlesbrough Council, the move would see residents relocated from Rigwood House children’s home on the outskirts of Saltburn, which caters for youngsters who may have emotional or behavioural difficulties.

Planning permission has been granted by Redcar and Cleveland Council to use Rigwood House as an extension to the specialist school located next door.

The developers say capacity is full at the both the Saltburn school and its Old Farm School in Kilton Thorpe and using Rigwood House would provide up to 30 extra learning places for pupils with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) problems.

No extensions would be made to the five-bedroomed Marton property which would be staffed by three workers at a time and registered with Ofsted.

A planning statement said: "The young people who will reside at the home will have needs which can best be met by the nurturing and proven team at Highfield.

“It is safe to say that there is no recorded negative impact on our neighbours or the wider community.”

Nine neighbours have been notified of the plans, along with the ward councillors, and a resident living nearby said questions have been raised over whether the site is suitable for the proposed use.

“It is totally random as a site to choose for this purpose – miles away from the existing spot these kids are at,” he said. “It’s really bizarre to me they would choose to move them here and I can’t see how it brings any benefits to Middlesbrough or the council at all.”

Get more from The Northern Echo and stay informed with subscription. Our special offer for May is £3 for 3 months or £30% off an annual subscription at £55. Click here to find out more.

Most read:

He also said there are concerns for a “vulnerable” child living in a property which borders the house.

“It might be fine and I know these kids need to have somewhere to live but this is in a built up residential area and you could also ask if this is a safe place next to a busy main road,” he added.

The planning statement for the application, which will be considered by the council in due course, said the property has “easy access to the main roads making other areas of Teesside easily accessible” with nearby public transport links.

“There are good shopping, leisure and school facilities close by, with most within walking distance,” said the statement.

“The plot size is above average with a fairly large rear garden to the rear offering a great outdoor amenity space. With five bedrooms, ample bathroom facilities and three ground floor living spaces this property is ideal for change of use to a residential home for young people.”

The Northern Echo:

Elsewhere, up to five new build properties will be potentially secured as part of Middlesbrough Council’s aim to provide more in-house provision of children’s homes.

The re-worked strategy is now exploring new build opportunities with home builders selling available bed space to local authorities and properties with minimal renovation work required.

A council report revealed council residential homes cost an average of £3,300 a week to operate, whereas external residential placements were £5,600 a week.