Proposed homeless hostel could ‘increase feeling of unsafeness’

The conversion of former student flats into a hostel for homeless people would lead to an ‘increased feeling of unsafeness’, residents have claimed.

The site at Oscott Gardens. Photo: Google Maps
The site at Oscott Gardens. Photo: Google Maps

And, along with a local councillor, nine people have written letters of objection to the council to the proposals for Perry Barr, which are due to be decided upon next week.

Papers due to go before the council detail plans to convert Oscott Gardens, a former student accommodation complex of 62 flats, into ‘hostel accommodation for homeless families for a temporary period of 6 years.’

A total of 62 flats are provided across the site with each flat comprising a living/kitchen area with either 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8 en-suite bedrooms. The site provides a total of 414 bedrooms, and the centre would be operated by the city council and employ 59 persons on site.

“Oscott Gardens would be occupied by homeless families for approx. 6 months whilst their needs are assessed/they are supported before they are moved on to either longer term accommodation or permanent accommodation,” council papers note.

“Potential occupants are risk assessed and there would be a team of 59 staff managing the site including a site manager, dedicated 24 hour security team, support officers and cleaners with a zero-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour.

The site was originally intended to be demolished to make way for the athletes village ahead of next year’s Commonwealth Games, but with those plans shelved the site can now be used to help solve the council’s homelessness crisis, with hundreds of families currently living in B&Bs across the city.

However the plans have been met with resistance from 10 local residents, including local Councillor Morriam Jan, with 10 letters of objection raising concerns including to many hostels already; the proposal will detract from house prices; anti-social, fly tipping and criminal behaviour will increase; the accommodation is needed for students; and inappropriate accommodation for families.

The majority of these concerns have been dismissed by the council, which writes: “The council’s records show only 1 out of 81 properties within 100m radius of the application site is recorded as a HMO. I also note there are no current planning enforcement investigations with regard alleged HMO uses within Oscott Road and no planning permission’s, post 1990, for change of use of dwellings to HMOs.

“Additional operational information has been provided and the applicant has confirmed that their existing 6 homeless hostels/centres have, over the past 12 months, generated only 2 incidents where the police had to be called. In addition, the Police have visited the proposed premises. Consequently, the police raise no objection subject to safeguarding conditions including CCTV, lighting and security.”

The application will go before the planning committee on October 14.

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