Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

PS400,000 Former Vicarage to Be Children's Home

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

PS400,000 Former Vicarage to Be Children's Home

Article excerpt

Byline: James Cain Reporter james.cain@eveninggazette.co.uk

RESIDENTS have reacted with surprise to news that a former village "dream home" is the latest to be bought as part of a controversial scheme to house vulnerable children and young people.

The Old Vicarage on Morrison Street, Stillington, was bought for PS400,000 by Stockton Council with the intention of converting it into a residential care home for youngsters aged between eight and 18 years old.

The former vicarage was listed for sale on Feb 11, 2014, for PS325,000 but a bidding war pushed up the price.

It is the latest acquisition in a PS2m scheme to allow the council to bring 20 in-care children back to the area by buying four residential properties and refurbishing King Edwin School, Stockton.

If planning permission is approved, Scottish company Spark of Genius will run the care homes and school.

Similar proposals in Hartburn and Thorpe Thewles have met with opposition as residents accused Stockton Council of a lack of transparency and expressed concerns of a possible increase in anti-social behaviour.

Denise Gaskill, a legal secretary from Stillington, was surprised when she received a letter informing her that the Old Vicarage had been bought.

She said: "We only moved here in March and nothing came up on our local searches.

"The week after we moved in there were people looking around the rectory and then Spark of Genius put a glossy brochure through the door on Thursday night.

"I didn't pay much attention because it looked like a holiday brochure for children with disabilities but then we had a letter from Spark of Genius about what they're planning to do.

"I have tried to look at planning permission on the council website but I couldn't find anything and the information we've received doesn't specify what kind of children are going to be moving in or how many. …

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