RESIDENTS have raised concerns over NFDC’s decision to turn a community centre in to five bedsits for short-term emergency housing.
The Blackfield Neighbourhood Centre in Heather Road, which has been vacant since 2017, will be used for New Forest residents who are homeless and would otherwise be living in bed-and-breakfast accommodation while they await suitable housing.
The application was approved by chief planning officer Claire Upton-Brown last month for the district council-owned site. It had received support from Fawley Parish Council but also six objections from those living and working nearby.
Cheryl Hadland, who runs Tops Days Nursery next door, wrote to the council to say two families had withdrawn from the provision because of the application. She said: “This building shares a plot and car park with the children’s day nursery, and families are fearful that offenders will be accommodated in this building, therefore posing a risk to their children.”
Giles Armstrong, who lives nearby, also raised concerns about who would be housed there. He said: “Will it be ex-offenders or people who are hard to re-house due to existing issues?”
He added the development would impact on his privacy and said parking was “already a major issue”.
Planning documents put together by NFDC state: “The proposed scheme will contain five bedsits which are adaptable to the needs of residents. For example, bedsits one and two utilise a lobby which creates one large bedsit for a family of four, if and when needed.
“The same method has been employed for bedsits four and five. Bedsit one also makes provisions for those with mobility issues.”
The bedsits will each contain a private en suite and furniture for residents to store their belongings, along with a fridge. There will also be two communal kitchens which provide space for residents to cook, eat and do their laundry.
The document adds: “During their stay individual households will be provided with a dedicated support officer, while the property will be visited and inspected on a weekly basis by estate management officers.
“Occupiers will be required to comply with the terms of their legal contract which grants them peaceful occupation of the accommodation, subject to meeting a prescribed list of conditions and behaviour. If the terms of agreements are broken in any serious way the council will seek a possession order and [tenants] will have to leave.”
Cllr Alexis McEvoy, who is the district councillor for the area, told the A&T she had raised the concerns of residents with the cabinet member for housing, Cllr Jill Cleary.
She said: “I asked the question and was satisfied that the people who are going to be rehoused there weren’t likely to be any threat to the children’s centre or surrounding area.”