Former Ipswich pub to become winter night shelter
An Ipswich pub which closed more than a decade ago is to get a new lease of life as the base for Ipswich Winter Night Shelter.
Selig Suffolk, which runs the night shelter, has operated out of the St Nicholas Centre in Cutler Street in the last few years, but lodged a planning application for a permanent base in the old Queen’s Head pub on the corner of Civic Drive and St Matthew’s Street.
MORE: Selig Suffolk lodges plans for new night shelter in old Queen’s Head pubIpswich Borough Council’s planning committee approved the plans at a virtual meeting on Wednesday morning by eight votes to one.
Julia Hancock, charity manager, said: “Our shelter has structure and discipline and is run in a professional manner.
“We prioritise the safety of everyone in the shelter, even when that means turning a guest away.
“This building would provide us with space to have appointments with guests during the day and our staff believe this would mean we could do even better helping guests to find housing.
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“The stability and security of a single site allows our guests to make more positive changes.”
The pub closed around 2008 having operated most notably as a Tolly Cobbold pub.
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However, the building had last been used as a drop-in clinic and support centre for those struggling with substance misuse.
The application said that pre-booked night shelter guests will be booked in between 6.30pm and 7.15pm on each night of the week from November to March, housing up to 15 people (including volunteers), and would not operate as a ‘walk-in’ facility.
Those guests will be referred by agencies such as the council’s housing support team, and are expected to leave by 9am the following morning, or 10am on Sunday mornings.
Other rules state that all use of alcohol and drugs is banned, as well as anti-social behaviour not being tolerated.
From April to September, when the shelter does not operate, the space will be used for activities, meetings and training.
Four members of the public objected to the plans, citing anti-social behaviour fears, but Ms Hancock said there would be no gatherings outside the shelter before and after guests have arrived or left.
However, some concerns were raised by the committee on the impact of the nearby businesses such as the Spoons World Buffet next door and the New Wolsey Theatre.
Councillor Robin Vickery said “we seem to making a ghetto of the whole area”, while councillor Liz Harsant said: “I have got some quite serious reservations – not about the principal, more about the venue.
“Environmental Health don’t think it is suitable for residents at ground floor level so why is it quite suddenly suitable for rough sleepers?”
Ms Harsant referenced the nearby Chapman Centre and added: “We are almost producing a rough sleeper area rather than an entertainment area.”
Councillor Adam Rae said it was “a very important facility we need” and described the location as “very good”.
Councillor Colin Kreidewolf added: “This application is about providing a service to our fellow citizens. These are our fellow citizens not some second class group of people – they are part of our community.
“The service the current night shelter has been providing it not just a sticking plaster with somewhere to stay overnight, but providing a comprehensive support package which enables many of these people to move on to more permanent forms of accommodation.”