A derelict former care home in County Durham has been targeted by vandals.

Residents have told of their horror at seeing the state of Shotley Park Residential Home, which is strewn with smashed glass, rubble, and broken windows.

Peter Wright previously lived inside the Grade II-listed building, in Shotley Bridge, when it operated as a children’s home and pleaded with the local authorities to protect the site. 

“I’m watching my childhood home be destroyed by scumbags who have no idea what they’re doing,” he said. 

Mr Wright’s brother’s ashes are scattered in the Shotley Park grounds but recent sentimental visits have been marred by the damage. 

He added: “I could have climbed through a window if I wanted to because they were all smashed. It’s going to cost hundreds of thousands to repair.”

Durham police said it is investigating reports of criminal damage and officers currently patrol the area. 

A planning application to convert the mid-nineteenth-century mansion into a hotel was recently approved by Durham County Council. The full details of the redevelopment are yet to be revealed and will be the subject of a separate planning and listed building consent application. 

County councillor Kevin Earley, whose Benfieldside ward covers Shotley Bridge, joined calls to protect the site. 

He said: “Shotley Park is a very important piece of local history within the village and the council will take action to secure it should it be attacked again by vandals. I have asked the local police and neighbourhood wardens to visit the site to try and deter these idiots who care so little for where they live. 

“We await details for its conversion to a hotel and will certainly chase the developer to make progress and protect this lovely old listed building.”

Representatives for the building’s owner were contacted but did not respond. 

A spokesman for Durham Constabulary said: “We have received several reports of suspected criminal damage at the former Shotley Park Residential Home site, in Shotley Bridge.

“Investigations are ongoing, and we urge anyone with any information to contact us.

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“The local neighbourhood police team carries out regular patrols in the area and these will continue.

“We are also working closely with our partners to address any issues that affect the people living within the community.

“Anyone wishing to report any incidents can do so by calling Durham Constabulary on 101, or 999 in an emergency.”