Caretaker’s house to be transformed

INNOVATIVE plans to transform a caretaker’s house into a new facility for youngsters with learning difficulties have been approved.

The caretaker’s house on the former Brierton School site, in Hartlepool’s Brierton Lane, will be changed to help pupils from the nearby Catcote Business and Enterprise College develop life skills.

Hartlepool Borough Council submitted the plans which were unanimously approved by the local authority’s planning committee.

The new facility will be used by Catcote Futures, which provides a specialised teaching facility for young people, post 19 years, with learning difficulties.

The space available at the Catcote School site, in Catcote Road, is “extremely limited” according to officers and as a result of an increased demand it has become necessary for Catcote Futures to look for alternative accommodation.

That led to looking at transforming the former school’s caretakers house.

Councillors welcomed the plans which involves building a “modest” single storey extension to link the existing craft block and adjoining garage, and alterations of these buildings to provide a teaching facility.

Chris Pipe, the council’s planning services manager, said: “It is also proposed to change the use of the former caretaker’s house to provide an ‘experience space’ which is anticipated will aid in developing life skills.

“This proposal also includes the installation of security fencing to provide additional security.”

Councillors praised Catcote Futures for the work they do.

Labour councillor Chris Simmons said: “I welcome this change of use.

“Catcote Futures provide a fantastic opportunity for young people with learning difficulties and they have an established reputation in the town and are doing something wonderful.

“I hope that we can approve this.”

Labour councillor Rob Cook, chairman of the planning committee, said the application had come before the committee because it was an application by the council for a council-owned building.

There had been no objections ahead of the meeting.

The application site is situated within the grounds of the former Brierton School, to the south of the Community Sports Centre which occupies part of the school site.