New homeless hub WILL open after court rejects neighbours’ pleas
PUBLISHED: 06:15 19 March 2020 | UPDATED: 18:05 19 March 2020
© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2011
Neighbours have failed in a last-ditch attempt to stop a homeless hub opening in Norwich.
A plan to transform a former office on Recorder Road into a temporary base for up to 16 homeless people had sparked fierce opposition from neighbours worried about an increase in crime.
It is opening next to a church and near an elderly residential home. Police had previously warned about it attracting drug dealers.
But the city council’s planning committee approved the plans from charity St Martins Housing Trust in October.
The project, which is commissioned by council and delivered by St Martins, was then delayed because of an appeal against the committee’s decision.
That appeal failed, but a judicial review was also filed with the High Court which has now been rejected.
The council said the lease on the building was due to be signed this week, meaning it could open in six weeks’ time, depending on the situation with coronavirus.
But a spokesman for the Recorder Road Community Group said it should be delayed.
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“The hostel will provide 16 sleeping cubicles in very close proximity and two shared toilets so infection would quickly spread through the hostel,” they said.
“This was pointed out by an NHS worker to Norwich City Council before planning permission was given.
“The homeless and St Martins’ staff deserve better, so we are surprised in the present climate that St Martins still consider this cramped location as suitable.”
The group also claimed there were “irregularities” on the application form to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) for £400,000 to fund the scheme.
The form, from the city council, stated the hostel could be operational by the start of August, but the planning committee did not meet until September.
The criteria also said planning permission must already be in place or imminent.
A city council spokesman said the service had been ready in October, before the delays.
A St Martins’ spokesman said the MHCLG had been kept up to date with the delays.
They added: “This was not a decision which was influenced by the council or St Martins.
“It was based upon the need for such a service in Norwich.”