NEW emergency housing in Ringwood for homeless people was approved as a “godsend” by councillors, despite neighbours’ concerns over anti-social behaviour.
The planning committee of New Forest District Council rejected those worries to sign off its own proposals to change the commercial use of 110-114 Christchurch Road into temporary accommodation.
Several members, including Cllrs Anne Corbridge, Allan Glass and Kate Crisell, stressed how crucial the housing was to struggling families. They said it would also save NFDC money by reducing the number of people put up in local bed and breakfasts.
“Spaces like this are a godsend,” Cllr Corbridge said. “For the people who use them – and they are very well managed and looked after – most move onto other accommodation.
“They are also a godsend for the council in saving a huge amount in bed and breakfast fees.”
Ringwood member Cllr Michael Thierry added: “Such a facility is very, very much welcomed. It’s in a great part of the town.”
The application said the site will provide for seven people, with five parking spaces. The bedsits each contain their own private en suite and “robust furniture” for residents to store belongings plus a fridge.
There are also two communal kitchens and an outdoor drying space. In the application, NFDC stressed the housing would support people it was “required to assist” by law.
Several neighbours and Ringwood Town Council had raised their objections, however.
NFDC had not consulted Ringwood Town Council at all, Cllr Rae Frederick complained, adding its members knew of alternative buildings in the town that should have been considered.
She said the town council believed the units were “too cramped” for families and individuals, and suggested they be reduced from seven to five.
Neighbours of the site flagged up the designs’ four double beds and five singles, and questioned if more than seven people will be staying there at any one time.
Opponents feared they would lose their privacy, traffic congestion would worsen, and there would be harm to Ringwood’s conservation area.
One, who gave her name as Mrs Palmer, told the committee: “Will there be an emergency local contact in case of any trouble? We will be bearing the brunt of this. Hopefully, it will all be sweetness and light but it might not be and we are concerned.”
However, the planning committee gave the scheme its unanimous approval.