YMCA Norwich flat plan gets green light

Steve DownesA �4.2m project to build 40 flats for young homeless people in Norwich city centre has been given planning permission.Steve Downes

A �4.2m project to build 40 flats for young homeless people in Norwich city centre has been given planning permission.

Last July, the YMCA Norfolk board gave the go-ahead to explore the plan to redevelop the back of the current YMCA accommodation on St Giles Street in Norwich and build the self-contained flats.

In October the project was granted �2.25m from the Homes and Communities Agency.

The development will see part of the current buildings on the Bethel Street side demolished, leaving the frontage on St Giles intact. It will provide move-on accommodation to help prepare young people for independent living.

Each self-contained flat will have a living room/bedroom, a kitchen and a bathroom, with communal facilities, and somewhere to provide training in life skills such as cooking and IT.

The YMCA will also provide support staff who can give advice and guidance to encourage young people into work and training.

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YMCA Norfolk chief executive Tim Sweeting said: 'I am delighted that we have been granted planning permission, as it will enable us to provide much-needed supported accommodation for both young men and women who are looking to become self-supporting and will be the last step on their journey before moving on to independent living.'

He added: 'We are seeing an increase in the numbers requiring our services and we are committed to doing everything we can to help young people when they need it most. This housing will provide young people with crucial move-on accommodation from our Central YMCA facility and allow us to help a much great number of young people.

'Young people will be given a place first at the central YMCA where they can be assessed. Those who show they are committed to developing themselves and moving forward will be offered the opportunity to live in one of the flats on Bethel Street, for a maximum of two years.'

Forty bedrooms and offices in the older front part of the existing St Giles YMCA hostel will remain in use throughout the building phase to cater for existing residents.

There is a target completion date of the end of 2011.

Norwich City Council officers recommended approval despite an objection by a local resident who claimed there was anti-social behaviour in the area and the new plans for the site could worsen the situation.

t To find out more or make a donation, contact Susie Knights on 07967 741103 or susieknights@ymca-norfolk.org.uk or visit www.ymca-norfolk.org.uk.