HALF of Hampshire’s children’s homes are to be closed and replaced with smaller versions, under new plans agreed yesterday.

County bosses are to radically overhaul local authority residential care for youngsters.

Currently there are six children’s homes with five or six bedrooms. But these are considered to be either too large and lacking the right sort of homely environment for children or, for other reasons, are no longer up to standard for residential child care.

Also, some homes are viewed as being isolated from local services and amenities and hampering contact with friends and family.

The plan is to close half the homes and provide a total of eight houses to accommodate 33 of the 1,130 children in the county council’s care.

Each house will be home to four children and include accommodation for the staff looking after them.

Of the existing homes it is suggested three would be retained and revamped.

The other three would be sold, with the money generated used for the refurbishments and building of five smaller, new homes.

These would be in less isolated locations with good transport links, in walking distance of schools and easy access to leisure activities so that young people are able to develop their independence safely.

A final decision has not been made on which home will be sold off.

Children’s service boss Cllr Keith Mans gave the scheme the go-ahead yesterday.

He said: “The physical environment in which a child lives has a direct influence on their self-esteem and confidence.

“I will want to be assured that the proposals, if implemented, will make a real difference and help to contribute to the children’s emotional well-being and positive outcomes as they move on to independence.

“It will be important to ensure that the homes will be comfortable places to live and that the children will feel safe, secure and happy.”