‘People die on the streets’ - Charity chief’s fear over homeless hub legal challenge

PUBLISHED: 06:00 15 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:05 15 January 2020

Plans for a new homeless hub on Recorder Road in Norwich are hanging in the balance. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Plans for a new homeless hub on Recorder Road in Norwich are hanging in the balance. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

The boss of a homeless charity has claimed ongoing objections to a new hub have meant some of the most vulnerable people have missed out on support over the winter.

Jan Sheldon, chief executive of St Martins. Picture: Sonya DuncanJan Sheldon, chief executive of St Martins. Picture: Sonya Duncan

The future of St Martins' new Somewhere Safe to Stay Hub in Norwich is hanging in the balance, with a legal challenge looming over a decision to grant it permission.

The hub, on Recorder Road, will allow St Martins to provide emergency accommodation for up to 16 people at a time while further support is being co-ordinated for them.

But Jan Sheldon, the charity's chief executive, has said that the threat of a judicial review from neighbours has meant people who could have been receiving support already have been left on the streets.

She said: "We were granted permission in October but have been unable to open the much-needed service due to local people requesting a judicial review of the decision.

"This has meant that during winter, when the service has been most needed, people have been on the streets. I find this frustrating and worrying as people die on the streets.

"The actions taken by local people are driven by fear of the unknown - I understand that. Yes, the people living in the local area could be seen as vulnerable, but equally so are the people we support.

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"Many of the people we support are living through unimaginable hell - they need our care and compassion and an opportunity to turn their lives around.

"We plan on being very proactive to work with the local people, listening to their fears and worries and doing all we can to redress them."

In October, Norwich City Council gave its permission for the charity to set up the new hub on Recorder Road.

However, with the possibility of a judicial review against this decision pending, the charity has been unable to get the scheme off the ground.

A spokesman for Norwich City Council said: "We received a formal challenge to our planning decision in mid-December. We've submitted our defence to the court and are awaiting a response.

"The next steps depend on whether the court decides to take the case forward or not."

They added that the planning permission remains in effect until a court says otherwise.

The judicial service confirmed that it had receive the application for a review and that a decision would be made in due course over whether a review will take place.

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