Fears have been raised that plans for a new centre supporting young offenders could have a negative impact on a borough community.
Residents living in part of North Shields are angry at proposals by YMCA North Tyneside to turn a house into a rehabilitation hub for potential drug addicts and young offenders.
Hundreds of people have signed a petition and written in letters of objection against the plans, which they say are being “snuck through the back door”.
The YMCA has submitted plans to North Tyneside Council to turn a five-bedroom house at 3 Milton Terrace into a shared dwelling to support community living.
If approved, it will house five young men aged 16 to 25, but YMCA officials say there is no guarantee those placed there will be ‘high risk’.
Dozens of residents from surrounding streets packed into Christ Church Hall on Tuesday night to express their concerns with police and Conservative ward members.
Nearby resident Morgan Saunders said: “There has been absolutely no approach or consultation.
“The lack of transparency on such a sensitive issue is appalling. There appears to be a conspiracy of silence.
“The siting of such a centre within a residential area will have a detrimental effect. The introduction of young people with behaviour and substance problems will significantly impact on the large numbers of young children in the immediate vicinity.
“Residents fear this is all being done through the back door.”
She also questioned whether there were more suitable locations, such as in North Shields town centre.
But Dean Titterton, chief executive of YMCA North Tyneside, said they were willing to talk to residents and had asked for the meeting to be delayed 24 hours so officials could attend and answer questions.
He said: “Residents don’t know the full story yet, we’ve been dealing with individuals. We’ve sent out letters telling them what the project is.
“We feel the Conservative members are scaremongering on what is a sensitive issue. This is going to be five young people, not necessarily high risk.”
Mr Titterton said under planning regulations they only needed a certificate of lawful development which they were waiting to be signed off by the council.
He added: “We looked all over for potential properties.
“Research has found putting these centres in good residential areas helps those in need of support.”