UPDATE: We understand that this planning application is being withdrawn. We are happy to point out that the Restore charity rents an office at the Gateway Church premises on Front Street but is otherwise not connected with that organisation.
Councillors on 6th June will consider a planning application to convert a property in St Stephens Road into homeless accommodation.
Four bedrooms in the semi-detached property will be let to individuals who are judged to be currently homeless. The application is associated with the Gateway Church in Acomb and is part of their “Restore” programme
It is unclear from where the clientele, intended to be accommodated there, will come from. A few years ago, a similar application to provide accommodation for former offenders in a property in Tithe Close also raised concerns.
Several residents have objected to the plan which involves declaring the property a “House in Multiple Occupation” (HMO). HMOs have a long history of controversy in parts of York with family accommodation being converted to meet the demands of the City’s burgeoning student population.
Maintenance issues prompted the Council a few years ago to specify the maximum proportion of HMOS that there could be in a neighbourhood. This was an attempt to retain “balanced” communities”.
The number of HMOS in the St Stephens Road area – which is some distance from the nearest higher education facility – is not an issue. There is only one other property nearby which has the designation.
Rather residents concerns have focused on the transient nature of the likely occupants of the property. They are concerned that few will stay long enough to become integrated into, what is, a tight knit community.
Of course, we will never “solve” the problem of homelessness if permanent accommodation options are not made available to those who fall on difficult times. So, initiatives like these are generally to be welcomed.
The charity operates outside the direct control of the local authority and therefore has a responsibility to be accountable to the local community.
The effectiveness of their management and communications is likely to be under scrutiny if the planning application is – as expected – approved.
Residents can attended and register to speak at the meeting taking place on 6th June.