Posted: Mon 4th Dec 2023

Wrexham Council makes third bid to turn former B&B into permanent homeless hostel for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Monday, Dec 4th, 2023

Wrexham Council will be hoping it’s third time lucky after making another bid to turn a former B&B into a homeless hostel on a permanent basis.

The council bought the Grove Guest House on Chester Road back in October 2020 to use it as emergency accommodation for homeless people.

It originally opened at the start of 2021 and the local authority has previously sought to make the change of use permanent via the planning process on two separate occasions.

However, members of the council’s planning committee chose instead to allow temporary permission for a 12-month period, with the most recent application decided in December 2022.

Temporary permission was given on both occasions due to concerns over a reported increase in anti-social behaviour in the area since the hostel opened.

With the latest permission due to come to an end soon, the authority has again applied to make the change of use permanent.

The council said in a planning statement that the approval of the application would allow it to continue providing the best possible support for homeless people.

It said: “Grove House already provides single room accommodation with en-suite facilities as a B&B establishment and as the figures highlight 40% of temporary accommodation in Wales is supplied by B&B. These premises do not have support based at the premises as Grove House does.

“By having support officers and a support officer overnight this offers peace of mind for the residents, a sense of community and an increased sense of wellbeing.

“If WCBC runs Grove House as a B&B there is no need to apply for a change of use. However, we want to offer more for our residents.

“The wrap around approach we have at present with in-house support workers has been proven to support the best results.

“Housing support work with our clients Monday to Friday to provide support with household budgeting, debt advice (signposting), forward planning, gardening etc. The residents volunteer to help with maintaining the garden throughout the year.

“In consideration to the above and in order to provide support we are applying for a change of use.”

The hostel is currently used to provide temporary accommodation to individuals presenting as homeless and where it is assessed that the council has a duty to house them.

The property has 16 bedrooms with en-suite facilities for single residents, along with a communal area with a lounge, dining room and cooking facilities.

The aim of the support provided is to help people to learn how to look after a house and manage household bills.

The council’s comments also include additional information on the types of homelessness people are experiencing in Wrexham, stating: “A common misconception is that someone needs to be living on the street to be homeless. This is simply not true.

“You may be legally classed as homeless if you are sleeping on a friend’s sofa, staying in a hostel, suffering from overcrowding etc.

“People become homeless for lots of different reasons. There are social causes of homelessness, such as a lack of affordable housing, poverty, unemployment and life events which push people into homelessness.

“For example, some are forced into homelessness when they leave care or the army with no home to go to. Many women experiencing homelessness have escaped a violent or abusive relationship.

“Many people become homeless because they can no longer afford the rent. And for many, life events like a relationship breaking down, losing a job. In every case homelessness can be ended.

“In order to end homelessness in Wrexham borough we need premises such as 36, Chester Rd., and indeed we will need more in the borough.”

The application also includes details of the number of times police have attended the property and of any complaints from neighbours.

Out of the 35 police visits to the hostel between January and September this year, 29 relate to meetings between police and staff.

This compares to six occasions where police have been required to attend due to incidents directly related to the hostel.

The application notes that most of these were welfare checks.

It also highlights issues raised by councillors and nearby residents, ranging from untidy hedges to reports of people shouting and swearing. The latter report was found not to have involved hostel residents.

Regarding security measures, the statement adds: “36, Chester Rd has eight internal CCTV cameras and eight external cameras which are in operation and are recording 24/7.

“Any instances that are reported to staff are immediately investigated via camera footage.

“Police and other partners are contacted if required as per our protocol, as we would in the wider community.”

The latest application will be considered by the council at a later date.

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