A CONTROVERSIAL proposal to build artists' studios on a former gardeners' site is expected to win councillors' approval.

A proposal has been submitted to develop studios, a gallery and public toilets on the Old Nursery Site, at Rose Walk, Saltburn.

While planners from Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, which owns the area, are expected to approve it after a site visit on Monday, residents strongly oppose the move.

They have written 26 letters of objection to the scheme, which involves the demolition of a greenhouse and garages.

Those in favour say the studios, which would be built near the Italian Gardens and linked with the adjacent Woodland Centre, would tidy up the area.

However, Tony Lynn, a member of the Woodland Centre sub-committee, claims that the council is responsible for the state of decline.

"We lost the battle when we lost the gardeners from the area," he said. "Then it was downhill all the way."

Following the gardeners' relocation to Kirkleatham, the area was controversially earmarked for a theme park in 1990.

Now, those in favour of the artists' studios claim that unlike the theme park, which was deemed unsuitable for the site, they would enhance its facilities.

A report to the planning committee says: "Concern has been expressed regarding the appropriateness of this use in the Valley Gardens. The site is totally enclosed, with a high wall separating it from the Italian Gardens."

It was not considered that the redevelopment of the site would have an adverse effect on the wider environment.

However, among the grounds for objection in letters to the council, a likely increase in traffic features prominently.

Mr Lynn said: "The biggest concern is any increase in traffic going down Rose Walk.

"We already have extra traffic from gardeners arriving in trucks because of the changes to how Valley Gardens is maintained."

He added: "The greenhouses provided floral decoration for throughout the borough.

"The saddest day for me was when the gardeners were removed from them. Now all we can do is make sure that the planning conditions for the artists' studios are adhered to."

Redcar and Cleveland council declined to comment in advance of the site visit