PLANS by a trust to set up a halfway house for young people has brought it in collision with residents.

The Depaul Trust, which was set up by Cardinal Hume about 12 years ago, is planning to build three flats in Bishop Auckland where young people who may have left care or face homelessness can be reintegrated back into the community.

The flats will be in Braithewaite Street, and a house in nearby Princes Street will be converted into a house share for five people from the local area, aged between 16 and 25.

However, people living nearby fear that it will result in offenders or trouble-makers moving into their community.

Yesterday, about 200 people packed into St Peter's Church Hall and demanded that representatives from the trust and Three Rivers Housing, which are supporting the project, explained what the project entailed.

Patrick Docherty, from Depaul Trust, told the residents that the properties would be staffed 24 hours a day and people would live there for about six months at a time.

He said it was not a house for young offenders.

"Each young person will have an informed worker and a care plan so that by the time they are ready to leave they will have some life skills necessary to move back into the community."

Several people asked why they were not informed of the intentions earlier. Planning permission for the flats has already been lodged with Wear Valley District Council.

District councillor Stephen Gregory said: "We have heard that we have got 24-hour supervision for these people. We have heard there are no paedophiles, so what exactly is going in this building? That is the bottom line. You have skirted right the way round it. What the hell are you bringing into a good neighbourhood?"

Speaking after the meeting, Alan Townsend, from Wear Valley council's regeneration department, said the plans should be discussed at January's regeneration committee meeting.

He said they are compiling a report on the proposals and would take into account comments they receive.