A new homeless shelter in Ashton-under-Lyne, which will house up to 35 rough sleepers, has been approved - despite fears it could lead to an 'increase in prostitution' in the area.
Tameside's planning committee has given the go ahead for a proposal to convert the former St Ann’s Church training centre on Newman Street (pictured) into a facility for homeless men and women.
It will replace the 'A Bed Every Night' provision at the former Ryecroft Library in Audenshaw, which had proved problematic with neighbours raising concerns over drugs and anti-social behaviour.
However, the plans for the Ashton venue attracted 27 objections over a range of concerns, such as a spike in crime.
According to the officer’s report, there were also objections over fears it could lead to a ‘likely increase in drug use, and discarded drug paraphernalia, and prostitution, close to the primary school’.
Others included concern for children’s safeguarding due to its proximity to the facilities at Trinity Moss Millennium Green, and that the problems experienced around Ryecroft would be replicated in Ashton.
It was also argued that a more ‘thorough’ public consultation was needed as all publicity about the application had been in English, which is ‘not the first language of many neighbours and users of the community centre’.
But recommending the plans for approval, officers said: “The proposed development would provide Tameside with a service that targets specific users within the local area and would contribute to the health and wellbeing, social, educational, and cultural needs of the community.
“It is considered that the benefits of the proposed development outweigh the perceived fear of crime, and that this perception can be addressed through a controlling condition.”
FORMER HOME: The Audenshaw base for the Bed Every Night scheme at the former Ryecroft Library
This condition includes a management plan for the new shelter, which will be headed up by the council’s head of the community safety and homelessness service.
They will be supported by two managers within the service and two rough sleepers initiative officers as well as staff and volunteers from Salford Diocese.
Security staff will be on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week to make sure the facility operates safely.
Drug and alcohol policies and searches will be carried out by them, and there will be a ‘behaviour contract’ that users of the shelter have to sign.
Police checks will be carried out on rough sleepers using the shelter, and there will also be an official complaints procedure.
The council is planning on installing CCTV at the junction of Burlington Street and Cavendish Street to provide monitoring of the site and the surrounding area.
“It is considered that the location of the homeless shelter would not necessarily cause a threat to the safety of children, the fear of which is again based on assumption of the characteristics of the service users,” officers conclude.
“The proposed homeless shelter would help to address the issue of homelessness in Tameside by providing a bed and personal support for anyone who is sleeping rough or at imminent risk of sleeping rough and, on balance, it is considered that these benefits outweigh any harm to local amenity.”
At the new centre, a wet room, showers and a kitchen would be provided on the first floor along will 35 bed spaces, while an interview room and laundry area would be on the ground floor.
The proposal forms part of a wider scheme by the council in partnership with Salford Diocese to provide a community hub on the ground floor.
This would include a café area, a food bank and a clothing bank that will be available to support all members of the local community who are in need.
The homeless shelter will be open between 7.30pm and 9am every day, with last entry at 10pm except in ‘exceptional circumstances’.