THE site of a former school blighted by drug use and rough sleepers could get a new lease of life.

Plans have been approved by Durham County Council’s planning committee for sheltered accommodation to be built on what was once Peterlee’s Eden Community Primary School.

The decision means the land, near Robson Avenue, could be cleared for the construction of more than 70 self-contained apartments, as well as hair salon, laundry, offices and other facilities.

Senior planning officer Paul Hopper recommended the application for approval.

He said: “The site occupies a sustainable location within Peterlee which is served by a good range of shops, services, employment and education opportunities and benefits from good local transport links.”

Councillor Audrey Laing said: “This land has been derelict for about 11 years and in that time there’s been anti-social behaviour, there’s been drugs, there’s been people sleeping rough and therefore I’m delighted to [propose approval] of this application.”

Coun Laing was speaking at Tuesday’s meeting of the county council’s planning committee for central and east Durham.

The application also included an agreement for the applicant to pay almost £100,000 towards infrastructure and other improvements in County Durham, with more than £18,000 earmarked for upgrades to healthcare provision.

Alistair Mitchell, of SPA Architects, said: “Extra care [also known as sheltered housing or assisted living] affords older people the opportunity to stay living in their own home, with their own front door, in a supported living community. Packages allow people to live a life of choice and extra care provides a ready made community for elderly people and can reduce isolation.”