Brondesbury Park residents have two weeks to oppose homeless hostel on their doorstep
PUBLISHED: 18:01 15 May 2015 | UPDATED: 18:01 15 May 2015
Worried residents in Brondesbury Park have launched an action group after being told they have just two weeks to oppose plans to open a homeless hostel on their housing estate.
More than 20 residents from the John Barker Court Estate met last week to form the Brondesbury Park Residents’ Action Group to raise awareness of the risks of anti-social behaviour, crime and noise disturbance associated with the council’s application to convert an empty housing block into a 28-bedsit temporary homeless hostel.
Rob Churm, 46, who founded the action group said: “There are a lot of parents with children and plenty of vulnerable and elderly residents living here and many are concerned about increased risk from the hostel, especially as hostel users will have to walk through the estate to get to the block.”
He added: “We are doing all we can to encourage people to comment on the planning application on the council website before May 25 but two weeks is no time at all. We need to raise awareness because unless the community is actually aware of plans like this they will go through unopposed.”
Campaigners have distributed more than 400 flyers to affected residents and have asked the head teachers of Malorees Junior, Malorees Infant school and Brondesbury College, which adjoin the estate, to make their views known on the likely impact of the hostel.
Brondesbury Park Conservative councillor Carol Shaw said: “When there are already three homeless hostels in the area we hardly need another one-especially as the block is very secluded and would be a haven for drug taking.”
“I am very angry because around 20 sheltered accommodation tenants were moved out last year with the excuse that a heating and communal shower system made it unsuitable for human habitation and needed to be replaced.”This plan does not seem to include plans for those refurbishments so it’s ridiculous- if it’s not good enough for those tenants then it’s not good enough for homeless people either.”
The application to use numbers 24-51 John Barker as hostel accommodation for one year before it is demolished was submitted by council housing officers to planning authorities, prompting fears from residents that the plans will be rubber stumped when a final decision is expected in June.
A Brent Council statement in support of the application explained that if approved, they would use the block as a short-term “alternative to expensive bed and breakfast accommodation” saving £75,000 over a five month period.
Cllr Margaret McLennan, lead member for regeneration and housing at Brent Council, said: “The number of people in need of emergency accommodation has increased, mostly due to the impact of welfare reform and ever rising rents.
“This scheme would primarily be used to accommodate single mothers with one child, who are currently being housed in expensive bed and breakfast accommodation.
“The planning committee has decision making powers separate to the council and it will determine the application independently after considering all of the information and comments received.”
To have your say and add comments to the planning application before the May 25 cut off log on to the Brent Council planning website.