Hostel could get go ahead this week

Controversial plans to build a new hostel for young homeless men and ex-offenders in Norwich could get the green light later this week.

The charity St Edmund's Society and Broadland Housing Association want to build the hostel on a former garage site on the corner of Crome Road and Dibden Road in the north of the city - to replace a similar hostel in Earlham Road which is more than 40 years old.

The hostel would have 19 beds along with five flats to help people back into independent living, but the application sparked concerns from families living nearby.

Sixty-four letters were received objecting to the scheme. Among the concerns were that the type of people living in the hostel might lead to increased crime in the area and that it was close to George White Middle School and Mousehold First School.

They also said it would lead to more noise and disturbance, reduce the value of their homes, would increase traffic problems and was not in keeping with the residential nature of the rest of the area.

CIty councillor Julie Brociek-Coulton, said: 'As the local councillor for Sewell I have received many concerns from local residents, mainly about how close the rehabilitation centre will be to residents, nearby schools and the school's walking bus.' But she said she was pleased plans for the hostel to include a drop-in centre had been ditched.

One objector wrote to the council to say: 'There are already in this area, a number of drug and alcohol-fuelled people, Many adults feel intimidated by their presence and to add a hostel like this would only increase the uneasiness felt by many people.

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'It can only be imagined what effect these people would have on young children.'

However, charity and housing association bosses have said the hostel would be similar to the existing one in Earlham Road - which has a good track record and a positive working relationship with a nearby school.

City council officers also point out, in a report which will go before Norwich City Council's planning committee on Thursday, that the St Edmund's Society has a zero tolerance policy on drugs, CCTV would be used in areas surrounding the hostel and that it would not house high-risk offenders.

And not everyone is against the plans - one letter in support criticised the 'self appointed group of nimbies' opposing the plans and added: 'I am very much in favour of homeless people having a roof over their head, access to medical care and an address.'

Officers are recommending that councillors approve the scheme, but they want conditions attached to ensure the hostel is staffed by a warden 24 hours a day, that noise protection measures are put in and car parking sorted before the first people move in.

A decision will be made when the planning committee meets in City Hall at 10.30am on Friday.

• What do you think of the plans for the hostel? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email