Fears over homeless hostel proposal

EXCLUSIVEBy Liz HearnshawRESIDENTS in an exclusive corner of a town fear their community could be “terrorised” when a hostel for the homeless is set up on their doorstep.

EXCLUSIVE

By Liz Hearnshaw

RESIDENTS in an exclusive corner of a town fear their community could be “terrorised” when a hostel for the homeless is set up on their doorstep.

People living around Queen's Road in Bury St Edmunds said their lives would be disrupted by late-night noise and anti-social behaviour from their new neighbours, who will be placed in a former sheltered housing complex in Queen's Close.


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They also criticised St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which owns the building, for failing to consult the public before granting permission for housing group Stonham to move 11 residents in to the complex for up to nine months.

One resident from the Queen's Road area, who asked not to be named, said: “None of us are very happy. When these people moved into Britannia House, Ipswich Street, was terrorised.

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“There was a lot of trouble, with windows smashed and cars vandalised, mostly caused when drink and drugs took over. Who wants that on their doorstep?

“We do not want these kinds of people living here, but it doesn't matter how much we complain, as the council has made up its mind.”

Residents claimed they had been given reassurances when they first moved to the area that the complex was to be demolished to make way for new bungalows.

But they received a leaflet from the council yesterday asking for their views on the permanent future of the site, due to be decided in January, and informing them of the permission granted to Stonham.

The joint leaflet from the council and Stonham said the residents would be moved into Queen's Close while a project to refurbish Britannia House was completed.

David Nettleton, who serves the area on the council, said: “I do not want to prejudge, but I would not be keen on this if I lived up there.

“It does not seem the right place and I will be interested to see what the residents' opinions are.

“But the main thing is that now people have been told and I am very keen to ask the public what they think before any full-time use for the site is decided.”

Frank Warby, the council portfolio holder for housing, health and crime, said: “We appreciate that there are unnecessary fears for the people along Queen's Road, but these people are properly supervised and are part of our community.

“This is not costing any money and we do intend to develop Queen's Close when they move out.”

A spokesman for the council added: “We informed people living nearby once we were satisfied that Stonham would have the correct procedures in place to ensure proper supervision of the building and its temporary residents.”

A spokesman for Stonham said staff will be on site 24 hours a day to monitor the residents and added the situation in the area surrounding Britannia House had improved during the past 18 months.

“Britannia House is a service for single homeless people from the Bury area. They are referred to us by the borough council and other local providers,” he said.

“The 11 residents will be the only occupants of the temporary service in Queen's Close. Stonham staff will be in the project 24 hours per day and CCTV cameras are in place to safeguard the security of the residents and the local community.”

The spokesman added: “The measures listed above have all been implemented over the last 18 months and local residents tell us that the Britannia House project is much improved.

“Stonham is committed to working with local residents to address any additional concerns. Leaflets have been delivered to local residents and, together with the local council, we will be listening to their views over the coming weeks.”

liz.hearnshaw@eadt.co.uk

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