'Shame on you' shout angry neighbours as bid for homeless accommodation is approved
PUBLISHED: 16:17 25 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:45 25 July 2018
Controversial plans to transform an empty Ipswich care home into temporary accommodation for homeless people have been approved - despite a huge public backlash.
Ipswich Borough Council bought the 31-bed former care home at 214 Sidegate Lane off Suffolk County Council last year and submitted plans to turn it into a 45-bed temporary accommodation for vulnerable adults.
The plans were criticised by nearby residents who said its proximity to the nearby Northgate High School and a playground made it inappropriate, and raised fears over possible anti-social behaviour, drug activity and the impact on house prices.
Its location outside of the amenities people would need in the town centre and the need for more care home spaces were also highlighted as concerns.
Two petitions with more than 160 signatures and more than 60 written objections were received by planners.
Earlier today the borough council’s planning committee met where it was approved by seven votes from the Labour group to four from the Conservatives.
The decision prompted calls of “shame on you” from the packed public gallery.
One nearby resident, who did not wished to be named, afterwards said: “We haven’t been heard.
“We are going to have to change the way we live and we will have to move.”
There was also concern raised that it was the borough council deciding on its own planning application.
Stephen Ion, Conservative councillor for the Rushmere ward gave a representation on behalf of the objecting residents, and said: “I have been a councillor for nine years and in all of that time I have never seen an issue give so much concern for so many residents.”
After the decision he added: “Obviously I am disappointed – more so for the residents than myself because they are the ones that have to put up with any issues.
“When there is a contentious issue like this there should be a greater level of engagement beforehand so the issues can be addressed before planning.”
Ian Blofield, head of housing at the borough council who represented the council as developer, said that the facility would help the council avoid having to put vulnerable people in costly B&B accommodation, and a licence agreement with occupants meant indiscretions such as drug use would meant they would lose their place.
He added: “The council does have experience in running hostels such as this with minimal effect on residents.
“The applicant is keen to make sure the hostel integrates into the community with minimal impact, and the applicant is minded to hold further consultation in the autumn.”