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£111,000 cash boost for Worcester homeless centre
A CONTROVERSIAL homeless centre in Worcester has secured a six-figure city council cash injection to allow it to go ahead.
The Guildhall’s Labour leadership has agreed to hand over £111,000 to help turn the former Heenans Social Club into flats for 16 rough sleepers.
The money will help the neglected site get an overhaul, including meeting rooms and office space for St Paul’s Hostel, which is running the facility.
More than 100 letters of objection were handed to the council about the site when it came before the planning committee for a decision in July.
The Labour cabinet met last night and agreed to pass on funding to help towards the transformation.
Of the total, £61,000 has come from developers involved in building the Sandwell House private property complex off Foregate Street in 2009.
And the remaining £50,000 has come from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), which is being passed straight on.
Councillor Lynn Denham, cabinet member for customer services and communication, said: “I am fully aware of the controversies around the planning application, I still bear the scars now.
“But this isn’t a matter to take lightly, it’s a serious issue.”
Under the plans, in conjunction with Worcester Community Housing, homeless people in need of “move on” accommodation will be offered a flat.
The idea is to use the rooms to encourage them to become more independent, before they are confident enough to secure a permanent place to live elsewhere.
Councillor Adrian Gregson, the leader, admitted the Heenans plan had a “mixed history” but said he was committed to it.
“This is about dealing with the issues of housing and homelessness in the city,” he said.
“It’s an important demonstration of the holistic approach we want to take to housing development - and it’s an important partnership with WCH.”
The £2 million centre is expected to be up and running by March 2015, and is mainly being funded by Government cash.
A total of 104 letters of objection were handed to the planning committee, mainly around concerns over anti-social behaviour.
St Paul’s Hostel say the tenants inside the flats will have “very low support needs” and get training in areas like cooking, cleaning, budgeting and developing social networks.
It has also pledged to clamp down on any problems if they arise, in a bid to ease community fears.
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