Former Black Country fire station to be used as supported living unit

A former fire station which neighbours claim is a centre for anti-social behaviour will be used to house people with disabilities and mental health problems, councillors have decided.

Cradley Heath's former fire station, in Mace Street. Photo: Google Maps
Cradley Heath's former fire station, in Mace Street. Photo: Google Maps

The converted Cradley Heath station in Mace Street has been granted temporary permission to provide supported living in nine apartments despite the fears of local people.

Sandwell Council planning committee agreed to a retrospective change of use permitting the building to be reclassified as a residential institution.

But neighbours say anti-social behaviour by tenants have left them fearful.

A spokeswoman for objectors told the committee since the station became a supported living centre they had seen violent behaviour and have suffered verbal abuse and threats.

She added: “There has been a profound negative effect on the homes in closest proximity with our small community no longer feeling safe and protected by the law.

“Our children have had to witness scenes they should not have been exposed to and many have to walk unaccompanied without an adult passing the premises to get to local schools.”

A report to the committee said police had been called out to the building on 11 occasions for incidents ranging from assault to welfare concerns.

Cristina Pashmi, the managing director of Rehabilty UK which runs the centre, said much of the past problems had been caused by two residents who had since been moved to different accommodation.

She denied rumours the apartments housed convicted criminals saying it was not a bail hostel.

She added that the company had carried a review of admissions policy and no longer accepted people with histories of alcohol or drug abuse.

Recommending the change of use planning officers said the council could not control which people were housed in the building.

A suggestion to defer the decision while the management and residents of the fire station meet with neighbours for further discussions was rejected.

Councillors instead accepted a compromise of granting permission for a period of 12 months after which the committee will decide whether to grant permanent approval

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