INDEPENDENT businesses who have revitalised a neglected area 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.

Concerned restaurant owners say the plan to build a 48-bed building would bring anti-social behaviour and drug issues to the city’s Arches currently ongoing a multi-million-pound transformation.

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.

Nilem Boyd, owners of Farrier House which houses a number of student flats and Farrier Street Surgery, said building a refuge would destroy the area’s reputation.

“The housing of this group of people needs to be split to smaller more manageable clusters across the city to avoid current residents and students being impacted by potential anti-social behaviour as already suffered by the opening of the drug rehabilitation unit at Farrier Surgery,” she said in an objection to Worcester City Council.

Mrs Boyd said students living in Farrier House have often raised concerns about aggressive behaviour from drugs and building a refuge would “denigrate the efforts of local businesses bringing the rundown area back into vibrant use.”

“We maintain the grounds around the building and regularly have to pick up syringes and drug paraphernalia which will only get worse if this building is allowed to proceed,” she added.

The University of Worcester, which owns several of the city’s historic railway arches and is working with Worcester City Council to transform the area, said a refuge was inappropriate for the area.

Several of the businesses in the city’s Arches in Cherry Tree Walk raised concerns about the “vague” and “contradictory” application which had originally only described an eight-bed refuge.

Several of the businesses in Cherry Tree Walk in the city’s Arches have raised concerns about the plan to use off-site management and only have one security guard for the facility.

Mark Chislett from Method Coffee said: “Having previously worked in homelessness support and related services for 16 years I understand the challenges faced by the sector; the complex needs of individuals' accessing services and also the resources required to support these individuals properly and effectively to ensure both their safety and the safety of the community where they are located.

“The initial details of the application have been unclear and contradictory. The letter that went out to local residents described an 8-bed accommodation, whereas the plans outline a 48 bed accommodation. The applicant is advertising a newly acquired 48 bed location in Worcester.

“A management plan has been submitted for the development but runs to just two pages and seems quite generic.

Mr Chislett said the lacklustre management plan was in contrast to other established facilities in the city such as St Pauls Hostel which accommodates a similar number of homeless people but employees 15 staff and has 11 trustees rather than just one security guard in the evening and an off-site manager.

In an objection to the city council, Edwin Kirk from Burger Shop and Maneki Ramen, said: “The application notes that the accommodation will be managed remotely by one member of staff.

“Further to this that there will be only one security guard in the evening. Contrast this with somewhere like St Pauls Hostel.

“This is by no way an appropriate level of support for such a planned project in the heart of Worcester.

“I am concerned that the development similar to others will attract people from outside the city.”