A “flagship” assessment centre for children with complex needs has been given the thumbs up from councillors.

The proposal for three new buildings on the site of now demolished Meadow Lodge, on Abergele Road adjacent to Eirias Park in Colwyn Bay, was heard at this week’s Conwy county council planning committee.

There had been 13 objections to the plan, the first of its kind in North Wales, with some believing it to be a bail hostel after misinformation was put into the public domain.

The site has been unoccupied since 2014 and work on the new facility will start next year.

Others pushing back against the proposals objected to plans to remove trees for the scheme, which is a collaboration between Conwy and Denbighshire councils and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

The ground-breaking scheme will house experts assessing the appropriate care options for children aged between six and 17 years old.

The aim is to stop the expensive practice of sending children with complex emotional needs out of county and give families a chance to reconcile.

Last year it cost an average of £180,000 per child to send children out of county on placements at specialist centres.

Colwyn Bay resident Judith Warrilow, who lives opposite the proposed site, spoke against the development at Wednesday’s planning committee.

A teacher and special needs coordinator for 25 years, she said she had spent most of her working life “dealing with challenging children”.

However, while she recognised the need for such a facility Ms Warrilow said she “strongly objected to its location for a number of reasons”.

She said: “I would like to comment on the lack of consultation with local residents, many of whom are unaware of this proposal.

“When the unit at Abergele Hospital was proposed there was a 12-week consultation period and three public meetings.

“The same consideration should be shown here and this should not be rushed through.”

She also said there were dangers with schools in the immediate area and a busy road and bus stop opposite where there had been several accidents.

Ms Warrilow also asked how long it would take to replace trees removed from the site. She added huge areas of Eirias Park had already been lost to various schemes.

In response Cllr Louise Emery, cabinet member for adult social care and leisure, said it was a “flagship project”.

She said: “This will be a children’s assessment centre where children will be placed there on very much a temporary basis.

“It could be for a couple of weeks or a maximum of 12 weeks. It could be a planned stay or it could be an urgent requirement to move them from their home.

“This will be working with the families to see if we can keep them together. This assessment centre will be a holding period for them to be assessed.

“This was the best option – not the least worst option, the best option. This assessment centre needs to be close to the community.

“It’s in a closed and peaceful location with plenty of outdoor spaces.”

A multi-disciplinary team including psychiatrists and psychologists will work at the assessment centre, which will have four assessment beds and two beds for respite and emergency use.

There will be therapeutic rooms, staff en suite rooms, games rooms, a sensory room and a quiet zone included in the start-of-the-art site.

Colwyn Bay councillor Andrew Hinchliff threw his weight behind the proposal.

He told members he had been a children’s home inspector for 20 years and had seen “first hand the good they do”.

He added: “I’ve also been there when a child has misbehaved so badly that they had to be taken from Colwyn Bay to the far side of Cheshire to a specialist treatment centre – it’s so much better to have one in the area.”

Officers said it’s own ecologist had said the changes to biodiversity were “not irreparable” and also noted that objections from Colwyn Bay town council had now been withdrawn.

The subject had come up previously when Cllr Cheryl Carlisle asked social care and health scrutiny chair Cllr Chris Hughes if he “fully understood” the proposals for the Meadow Lodge site.

That exchange came after Cllr Hughes told a Colwyn Bay town council meeting on October 6  there had been no mention of “potential for an increase in crime in the vicinity of the site, or the perception of an increase in crime” in planning documents.

Councillors voted unanimously to approve the scheme.