A NEW children's home in Weymouth has been given the go ahead.

The former registration office and adult education site, in Dorchester Road, will offer a home for five children, expected to be mainly teenagers, who will have up to three staff caring for them at any time.

Two flats will also be provided in the main building, along with space for supervised family visits and office space for social work staff.

Planning permission was granted unanimously for the development at an area planning committee meeting on Thursday afternoon.

It was proposed by Weymouth councillor Louie O’Leary who told the meeting: “It’s a very good scheme, exactly what’s needed."

Councillor Bill Pipe urged support for the project saying it would save council taxpayers money in the long term.

The permission includes the demolition of a former adult education building and a linking corridor to the rear of the site, adjacent to Park Lane.

Executive director of children’s services, Theresa Leavy, told a briefing meeting earlier in the year that the site and its staff would do its best to be good neighbours.

The permission allows for a two storey residential children's home with a change of use for the existing property from office to residential use on the first and second floors.

The redevelopment of the site is expected include some ‘green’ energy measures – a heat pump and solar panels.

Dorset Council claim that its method of construction for the new block on the site will help reduce carbon with savings also made by converting the main block, rather than by demolition and building new.

Much of the new build will be largely manufactured off site, and then craned in. The process, which is likely to result in a brief road closure, is believed to be less disruptive to neighbours than building on the site.

Weymouth Civic Society had objected to the design of the building which it says is out of keeping with the area, although planning officers say it is more likely to enhance the surroundings.

The new building, on the site of the adult education centre to be demolished, would be timber framed with two storeys at the front and one at the rear. A  study has shown that, because the building would be set back, it is unlikely to block light from next door Kildare Court, a concern for some of the residents there.

The main former registry office building will be converted to contain office space, meeting rooms and two flatlets giving a total of five bedrooms, designed for emergency and short-term accommodation.

Children’s social services executive director, Theresa Leavy, has said that the council plans to get as many local children back into Dorset as possible.

The predecessor council closed and sold former children’s homes in Cattistock and Dorchester leaving Dorset Council with only a handful or residential spaces, all of them at The Cherries special unit in Weymouth.

The council currently has more than 480 children in its care, around sixty of them living outside the county. Roughly one third of the local children in the care of the council come from the Weymouth and Portland area.

The new unit is expected to be ready for occupation by winter 2021.