Council again look to make Grove Guest House permanent accommodation for homeless
Wrexham Council are again looking to make the former Grove Guest House, currently emergency accommodation, into a permanent facility.
The report is before councillors tonight as the current temporary planning permission expires on 31 December 2022 and “there is a continued need to provide support to homeless people in the County Borough”, it is unclear what happens if the permission is not given, but it could be given another 12 months ’emergency’ status.
The property has been in used since January 2021 to provide temporary accommodation for homeless people. The use benefitted from temporary permitted development rights introduced the Welsh Government in response to Covid-19 pandemic to allow certain changes of use to take place for a time limited period.
Due to the time limited nature of those rights, planning permission to permanently change the use of building to a homeless shelter was sought in November 2021 with permission being granted on 10 January 2022. Councillors imposed a condition limiting the permission to a 12 month period in order to enable the impact of the use on the amenities of nearby properties and in respect of crime and anti-social behaviour in the vicinity to be monitored.
The Housing Department of Wrexham Council have now applied to vary condition 01 of the planning permission to enable the facility to be used on a permanent basis to continue to provide accommodation for people who present to the Council as homeless.
Councillors have been given data, with an explanatory note that reads, “The Housing Department has advised that additional facilities are needed based on the number of people presenting as homeless over the past 3 years. Due to pressures such as inflation, interest rate rises and energy poverty, the number of people presenting as homeless is predicted to increase.”
The usual range of consultees are listed, with the responses – or non-responses – given in the documents.
The local Community Council “Have commented that they have no planning related observations to make”.
The local councillors were notified and have “No response at the time of writing”.
North Wales Police have commented “…there has been no change to the response they give to the previous application (local officers and inspector do not have any concerns providing it is continually managed well, which it seems to be at present). They have commented that there have been a few incidents at the location from time to time but nothing that causes them any concerns.”
The owners/occupiers of 17 nearby properties have been notified, prompting three objections which included feedback; “It was supposed to be temporary during Covid, “No control of the history of persons being housed”, “Continued use as a homeless shelter is wrong/unacceptable”, “There is a need for the facility but it is introducing undesirable people into a community with young children who should not be exposed to drug taking and drug dealing. There have been numerous instances of this.”
Local residents report they have “Witnessed persons using drugs behind the wall of the Groves School campus entrance on Penymaes Avenue and “Residents have been exposed to anti-social behaviour by people from the facility entering their gardens”.
They also note no third party calls had been received by North Wales Police between 1 Jan 2021 to 1 October 2022 regarding incidents relating to 36 Chester Road.
The report to councillors states, “It is noted that concerns have previously been raised that the facility would lead to crime, anti-social behaviour or noise disturbance. The concerns expressed in the representations to this application are also noted. However, the evidence advanced by the Housing Team indicate that such concerns have not been a particular issue over the last 12 month period. Furthermore, separate legislation is in place to deal with such matters.”
The Housing Department has provided a big table of answers to concerns raised by previous respondents, as well as those living nearby:
The proposal is recommended to be granted, with councillors told, “It is considered that the permanent use of the site as a homeless facility would not give rise to undue adverse impacts in respect of the character or appearance of the local area, residential amenity, highway safety or public safety. As such the proposal accords with policies GDP1 and T8.”
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