WORCESTER: Concerns over homeless shelter
MORE concerns have been raised about a “disastrous” plan to build a new homeless shelter in the city centre.
The student housing block Court Mews in Worcester’s Farrier Street would be converted into a 48-room shelter as part of plans revealed by Manchester-based Grolar Developments.
Several independent businesses, who have helped revitalise the neglected part of the city centre, fear their hard work will be ruined by a plan to build the city’s biggest homeless refuge on their doorstep and have raised concerns about anti-social behaviour and drug taking.
In an objection to the council, Sam McCarthy from Worcester BID said building the shelter would deter businesses from moving to the area.
“This development will stop further development in this area and may well make existing business move away from the area or out of Worcester completely, this could lose jobs for local people evidenced already by concerns raised by neighbouring businesses such as Worcester Whitehouse Hotel, the Burger Shop and the University of Worcester,” she said.
“The South Worcestershire Development Plan states that it supports strategies that focus on sustaining and regenerating south Worcestershire’s city and town centres as priority areas for regeneration, this kind of development will stop this happening in this area.
“The aspirations for the area are to develop the night-time economy and this will therefore not provide the homeless the amenity they require.”
Jack Evans, who has recently opened a bespoke furniture workshop in one of the city’s arches, said he had moved to the city centre on the promise that the area was being revitalised.
“I located my business here in the knowledge that the council would be demolishing the chicken takeaway to create a walkway between Foregate Street and the river,” he said.
“The prospect of an improved infrastructure and increased footfall was the deciding factor for my locating in the arches. However, it seems to me that the proposal conflicts with the plan to regenerate the arches and create a culture destination.
“Locating a homeless refuge at Court Mews would inevitably have a negative effect on my and other local businesses, with people being put off from visiting the area.”
Rachael Mitchell, manager at the nearby Whitehouse Hotel, would have a “devastating impact” on the hotel and prevent tourists from visiting the city.
In a lengthy submission to the council she said: “As the responsible organization will be remote, who will be registering and liaising with the residents, going through procedures, rules and assessing their needs on a daily basis?
“I understand that one member of security will be provided which in itself indicates that trouble is expected and that the management of the property will be operated remotely. In other such accommodation, the ratio is far higher with several support staff on site 24/7.”
Words: Christian Barnett, Local Democracy Rerporter
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