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Fate of city homeless hub to be sealed next week following paperwork blunder

PUBLISHED: 16:08 03 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:08 03 October 2019

The Recorder Road area of Norwich where St Martins Housing Trust hopes to set up a new homeless hub PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

The Recorder Road area of Norwich where St Martins Housing Trust hopes to set up a new homeless hub PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

The fate of a new facility in Norwich city centre geared at providing emergency support for rough sleepers will be decided next week.

Dr Jan Sheldon, chief executive of St Martin's Housing Trust. Picture: St Martin'sDr Jan Sheldon, chief executive of St Martin's Housing Trust. Picture: St Martin's

St Martin's Housing Trust has earmarked a former office block on Recorder Road to provide what is know as a 'safe to stay' hub, which would provide short term and short notice accommodation for homeless people.

The plans went up for debate last month, however, a clerical error on paperwork which saw the application site incorrectly marked out saw the decision deferred by Norwich City Council's planning committee.

Now though, the debate is due to be resumed, with the recommendation remaining one of approval.

This is despite a range of concerns being raised about how the new hub would operate and impact upon the elderly people and churchgoers nearby.

Kevin Maguire, Norwich City Council cabinet member. Picture: Norwich LabourKevin Maguire, Norwich City Council cabinet member. Picture: Norwich Labour

The proposed site sits directly next door to the Greek Orthodox Church and close to a residential homes for the elderly.

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Some fears have been raised that the hub could result in an increase in anti-social behaviour in the area, concern coming specifically from residents of the homes and members of the church.

However, St Martins chief executive Jan Sheldon had previously sought to reassure neighbours that the charity would be well equipped to quell this danger.

She said: "We have a zero tolerance approach to illegal and anti-social behaviour and we are very clear about this with the people who use our services.

"We are working with our planning team to make every effort to ensure that access for people who may dealing drugs is impossible."

The application has been supported by Kevin Maguire, the city council's cabinet member with responsibility for rough sleeping, said: "I give this application my whole-hearted support; it is vital in order to help the city of Norwich address the challenges being presented by rough sleeping.

"This is a hard road and takes time but for many, this hub will be a life-saving first step."

However, while Mr Maguire's support provides a boost, the decision over whether the plan can go ahead rests with the planning committee - of which he is not a member - which meets on Thursday, October 10.

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