Women’s refuge to replace controversial Coseley hostel project after outcry

Controversial plans for a 65-bedroom hostel for men have been scrapped to make way for a new women and children's refuge.

People attending the recent meeting
People attending the recent meeting

Bosses at Expectations UK will now look to open the refuge in Bayer Street, Coseley, for pregnant women and mothers with dependent children.

It replaces the charity's original plans for a hostel for men over the age of 25, which faced heavy scrutiny from Coseley residents and West Midlands Police.

In an email seen by the Express & Star, Expectations UK trustee Marc Blanchette revealed that the organisation had taken the concerns of those objecting the plans into account.

The trustee said that changes were to be made to the original proposal, as outlined in his email to Coseley ward councillors, residents and West Midlands Police.

Mr Blanchette said "As a result of a community consultation and opposition from other interested parties, including West Midlands Police, Expectations management and trustees has respectfully taken into consideration the objections raised and reviewed our initial plans for the use of the premises, and amended our proposal.

"New Bridge House will now provide specialist supported accommodation for homeless families. We will no longer be proposing accommodating men.

"We will be providing accommodation to pregnant women and mothers with dependant children up to six months or until they can source suitable alternative accommodation.

"The project will be staffed 24/7 by experienced qualified staff who will meet the needs of residents through regular structured support sessions.

"The project, in line with our other projects, will have strict rules in regards to alcohol or other substance misuse on site or in the vicinity in line with our zero tolerance policies.

"All visitors will be monitored whilst on site and a curfew will be in place for residents."

But Craig Jones, founding member of the Coseley Focus group, said the changes were a ploy for them to get the approval from Dudley Council's planning committee.

He said: "They are going to appeal to the community, pull on the heart strings, because its families.

"People will feel more sorry for women and children than men. They will get it approved by planning and then just go back.

"They have got no experience working with women and children, it is just single men.

"It makes you wonder why they are doing it. If this does not go ahead they will be back with something else."

Mr Blanchette said that Expectations UK would meet with anyone still concerned following the changes made to the proposal.

The Express & Star contacted Expectations UK for comment but the charity failed to respond.

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