The conversion of a former guesthouse to a multi-occupancy homeless house received the green light last night from planners … although compromises were made for permission.

Residents had shared their fears over the controversial plan.

It had been proposed that the former Castle Lodge guesthouse on Castle Road be part of the council’s homeless recovery path, acting as a second-stop facility for those willing to live on their own and begin to find their way back. independence.

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However, councilors said a lack of consultation with the residents of Castle Road, by plaintiff Two Saints, has led to a lot of misinformation which has led to objections, stereotypes and panic.

Resident representative Matt White questioned whether Isle of Wight council could guarantee the safety of their children and said residents were “frankly not only worried but scared by the proposals”.

He said:

“We are very concerned about the impact the proposal would have on residents, who currently enjoy a peaceful and orderly environment in which to live, raise their families or enjoy retirement, free from antisocial behavior and do not understand how the proposal is appropriate under council planning policies.

He argued that turning the guesthouse into an HMO would not be in line with the council’s planning policy to encourage tourism.

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Council Housing Needs Department Manager Jamie Brenchley told the meeting:

“We’re talking about people, like me and you.

“There seem to be a lot of judgments, stereotypes and labels associated with people who ultimately find themselves homeless.”

Mr Brenchley said this proposal was not intended for people with complex needs requiring 24-hour support, but that the support offered was “beyond” what these people may need to live in the city. community.

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Councilor Geoff Brodie offered to accept the officers’ recommendation, granting the building permit, and said he understood it was very controversial, but if more had been done through consultation and engagement of advisers, it would not have reached this stage.

Cllr Brodie said that when a first stage homeless recovery shelter was offered in his ward at the old Barton primary site, he made an effort to reach out to everyone who may be affected. to make sure they were comfortable with their presence.

The request was brought to the planning committee by former councilor John Hobart who shared residents’ concerns, but Cllr Brodie said he appeared to have failed in his duty to advise to make sure people were in the know of demand at an earlier stage.

Cllr Matthew Price echoed Cllr Brodie’s comments on Two Saints’ failure to engage with residents and said there was an element of debunking that needed to be done, even though it was about flyers through the doors, from a contact at Two Saints or from online meetings.

The app will transform the property into an 11-bedroom HMO, accommodating up to 12 residents, with staff on-site 7 days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. Monday to Saturday and 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Sundays with assistance 24/7 via custodians.

This follows comments made by the Hampshire Constabulary Crime Design Officer who largely supported the development, but only if HMO residents were at an appropriate stage of their recovery and there was effective support on place for them at all times.

That the police comment was not fully taken into account by the proposals was an issue for Cllr Price, who said that although it was not, residents in her neighborhood had been in contact. to express their concerns.

Cllr Price said he heard nothing at the meeting that they should ignore the police officer’s recommendation, and while he is not passing judgment on people entering the HMO, has felt that residents’ concerns had not been fully addressed.

He proposed a change to the officer’s recommendation, which would make residents more comfortable with the number of units in the building reduced to 8 and a built-in review period if there is no had had no incidents to increase the capacity to its full potential.

Planning officer Sarah Wilkinson said if the change were to take place the board would be open to a challenge and said there would be anxiety about how to otherwise use the empty space in building.

Instead, temporary consent was offered as a compromise for the HMO, where after three years the building permit would expire and Two Saints would have to reapply to keep the building as an HMO.

Cllr Price withdrew her motion and supported Cllr Brodie who had accepted the amendment for a period of 3 years.

Cllr Paul Brading, however, declined to support the amended motion saying people would be in place to handle the situation and ensure it was functioning before the 3-year limit.

Overall, Cllr Brading, Cllr Price and five other members of the planning committee voted in favor of granting the building permit, without any against and no abstentions.

It was determined that the building permit would last for three years from the start date, not the date the permit was granted.

About John McTaggart

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