Homeless refuge given go-ahead in Preston - with a warning not to upset neighbours

A refuge for 30 homeless people is to be opened in a residential part of Preston despite objections by neighbours.

Friday, 20th August 2021, 2:04 pm

But the community interest group behind the project in Ashton has been warned to make sure its tenants do not upset the local community after similar projects in the city have caused problems.

Lotus Sanctuary, which manages supported living for around 800 people across the UK, has been given the go-ahead to convert a former student block in Tulketh Road to help homeless people on the road to getting a place of their own.

Despite fears from locals that the move could lead to increased crime and anti-social behaviour in the neighbourhood, planning officers have recommended it should be approved, but with conditions.

The former student block will become a homeless refuge.

In a report, the city council's housing standards team says: "The new manager (Lotus Sanctuary) will need to give a great deal of consideration towards ensuring that this intense use of the property by numerous persons who may have difficult backgrounds and potentially chaotic lifestyles does not impact on the community.

"The housing standards team have had recent and prolonged experience whereby well-intentioned remotely-based community interest companies have begun houses in multiple occupation aimed at persons with similar needs in various kinds of property within the city that has, due to a lack of sufficient local on-site management, caused huge difficulties with the existing community."

Lotus Sanctuary says it will staff the property around the clock. Its plan is to give accommodation for up to 30 people "who have recently been made homeless, or are at the risk of being made homeless, who need assistance to be in a position to sustain a tenancy, live independently and reduce the risk of (them) re-entering homelessness."

Seven worried residents lodged letters of complaint about a refuge housing "challenging individuals," saying it could have an effect on rental incomes of neighbouring properties and an impact on property values locally.

But the council dismissed their worries saying: "It is acknowledged that there are genuine concerns about the potential for an increase in crime and anti-social behaviour with the property being changed into the use proposed.

"However no assumptions can be made about how the new facility would operate, nor about the behaviour of the tenants who would live in this property.

"It is ultimately the applicant's responsibility that reasonable measures of crime prevention and security are implemented on site, such as CCTV, alarms or lighting, as well as the professional management of the property."