Dozens of residents are set to lose their fight against plans to turn two properties into supported accommodation for the homeless.
Families fear a rise in anti-social behaviour, noise, traffic, drug-taking and people ‘loitering’ if the proposals for the neighbouring houses in Brook Lane, Chester, go ahead.
They claim the development is unsuitable for a residential area, particularly one where many children and elderly people live.
But Cheshire West and Chester Council, which has submitted the twin applications for change of use of the buildings, says the move is needed to reduce rough sleeping in the city.
Now members of the planning committee are being recommended to approve the scheme at a meeting on Tuesday next week (November 2).
Altogether, 21 people would be able to stay in the rooms, with most having their own kitchenettes and bathrooms. It would be managed by ForFutures, on behalf of the local authority, and would have 24-hour supervision by staff.
A report to the committee states the two period properties – previously used for student accommodation – would provide ‘move-on’ housing for people registered as homeless.
It adds: “The idea is that this managed accommodation will assist the future occupants in becoming tenancy-ready for their own property following a tenancy of between six to 12 months.”
Each resident would receive a package of support, including budgeting and financial advice, how to ‘get on’ with neighbours, and access to employment, training and volunteer projects. It could also include work with other agencies to address drug and alcohol dependency, mental health and social isolation.
The council stresses every person who stays there would have to sign a tenancy agreement and there would be a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards drugs.
But more than 90 objection letters have been submitted and only one letter in support of the plans.
Several residents raised concerns about the impact on Northgate Ponds.
One neighbour wrote: “This area is the only nearby green area for residents, particularly the elderly who cannot manage to travel further afield for fresh air and exercise – vital for our health and well-being. I foresee it will become a ‘no go’ area.”
Another local resident added: “I do not really object to the homeless being housed. Everyone should have a place of their own. I question the wisdom of placing so many people together. Twenty-one seems to be a large number to place in the same area.”
The report says Cheshire Police has not formally objected to the application, but has raised some concerns over the suitability of opening the facility in Brook Lane.
This includes the presence of a cycle path opposite which is ‘said to offer a route or area for drug use and drug dealing and has little in the way of natural surveillance’.
Proposed security measures at the supported accommodation could help to address some of the issues, with CCTV, electronically controlled doors and gates.
The report concludes: “It is the view of officers that the wider benefits that the proposal will bring in supporting homeless people into independent units of accommodation are not outweighed by the risk of future impacts on neighbour amenity.”