Anger at ‘secret’ plans for third homeless hostel in small Hove street

Posted On 20 Feb 2017 at 4:54 pm

Residents of a short street already home to flats for the homeless which residents say is plagued by antisocial behaviour were horrified to learn this month that the council intends to convert two more houses into a third homeless housing scheme.

Seafield Road

Seafield Road

People living in Seafield Road say they already shoulder more than their fair share of antisocial behaviour from residents of two housing schemes for homeless people with substance issues which have been operating there for more than 20 years.

So when they discovered from a chance remark made by a councillor that the council planned to convert two more houses into a hostel to rehouse a homeless project which was blamed for similar problems in the city centre, residents were understandably concerned.

In a street of about 46 houses, this means four will be used to house people with drug, alcohol and other issues in a street already frequented by dealers and street drinkers and surrounded by places to buy alcohol.

But the council says there is support locally for action to be taken on homelessness, and the West Pier Project is part of this.

Resident Janet Bray, who has lived in the road for 23 years, said: “I was told about it last Tuesday when talking about the existing antisocial behaviour issues. Just at the end of the conversation, I was told by the way, the West Pier Project is moving to Seafield Road.

“It’s astounding given the history. This has been done by stealth. They’re intending to get this done by early April.

“People are furious that this happening by stealth that no one has been consulted and that no impact assessment has been done despite the very well known trouble.

“This is not a nimby issue. Seafield Road is already an oversubscribed host community and we are saying no more. We already have needles and faeces and condoms on our street. We have got our share. Sort out the problems we have got, don’t add to them.

“They really need to stand back and look at the location of hostels. Within 1km there are 10 places that you can buy alcohol.

“There already exists what I term an ‘open corridor’ between the properties run by Hartman Homes at 3 and 7. Housing a further 22 people with similar or the same issues, needs, wants and ways of living is only going to extend this corridor for almost the entire length of the street.

“There’s already ghettoisation. The street drinkers come along, there are people sneaking out of the hostels in the morning who shouldn’t be there. You see the dealers pulling up in their cars and I regularly pick needles up from the garages.

“How a council that has an in depth knowledge of the issues that we have faced for 20 years that this decision could be made without any consultation or impact assessment. It shows contempt. Our concerns have always been trivialised. This is just the icing on the cake.”

Hove MP Peter Kyle wrote to residents, echoing many of their concerns and saying he was asking the council to carry out a community impact assessment.

He said: “I am as concerned as you are about the proposal for another hostel on your road when the West Pier Project moves there. Whilst it is different accommodation to what already exists on the street, and there will be 24-hour staff on site, I am worried about the impact of it in your area.

“Whilst I’m sure we’ll all agree that we need more support facilities for vulnerable people in our city, what concerns me is the lack of consultation by the council about where to place it.

“I will speak to the relevant decision makers and ensure that proper procedures and assessments have been performed. I will also liaise with your local councillors and support them on finding a solution.

“My immediate demand to the council is that a community impact assessment is carried out before further work continues.”

A council spokesperson said: “Brighton and Hove is a city with an acute housing crisis, and homelessness is an increasing pressure. As a council we do all we can to help the vulnerable by providing vital support to those at risk of homelessness or living on our streets.

“The West Pier Project is a high support service for single homeless people and rough sleepers with complex needs. The project is part of a broader citywide effort to help people experiencing homelessness and there is much support locally for action to be taken on that.

“We have considered carefully all options for the future of the West Pier Project and will soon be providing more information about the proposed move of this service.

“We are committed to engaging with residents about any concerns and our aim is, while recognising the challenges, to balance everyone’s needs.”

  1. Joe Reply

    There are police and / or ambulances on Seafield road almost every day of the week. Moving another 20 beds for “complex needs” individuals to the street is just not fair on local residents. It’s too high concentration in one small Street and places an intolerable burden on this one tiny community. Such hostels are desperately needed but their location should be balanced and spread over the city.

  2. Matt Wingfield Reply

    I live on Seafield Road & feel it is unacceptable to put another hostel on this street. We have our fair share & have to deal with th reality of it all the time. The police are aware of the anti social behaviour that already exists & enough is enough. To add a further 22 people with mental health & drug issues in such a tight area is just asking for more trouble.
    These places need to be shared around the wider city & not kettled into one domestic street.
    The council should consult, be transparent & treat people of this street & the surrounding streets with more respect & less contempt.

    Matt Wingfield

  3. Jane Wrin Reply

    What they fair to recognise is that these are both double fronted houses, so already twice the size of most of the houses, thus adding 2 more houses as hostels is like adding 4 more houses.

    Give us a break, have some respect. People with such needs rarely thrive when surrounded by others with the same needs. Regency Square clearly felt the need to move this project on.

    It seems that the Council literally thought that as we already had hostels, it was a good idea to put more here. Seriously people? Check your research, look at the demographs, understand the impact.

    I want to see the number of people drunk, drugged or otherwise incapable reduced, not tripled over-night.

    • Rob Pitt Reply

      Jane Wrin said “Regency Square clearly felt the need to move this project on.”

      I used to live there. The building had some pretty bad structural issues that’s probably why they want to move it.

  4. Daniel harris Reply

    If any residents who live on seafield road want to share any information I am an activist and campaigner around Housing.

  5. SamC Reply

    The existing hostels have been putting two fingers up at this community for years and blighting the lives of many people without being held responsible. Brighton council is apparently a very good customer of one of the hostels and don’t care about the impact of the antisocial behavior their clients engage in or the impact is has on the community. God help them if the same council transfers WPP to the street.

  6. Daniel Harris Reply

    I understand they are Adult Social Care Allocated Properties, they tried to complete a mental capacity assessment on me when I was in a dilemma with the council, I could have ended up there. If I did I don’t think i’d be here today. I heard they had a fire in one the the buildings recently. Scary stuff.

  7. Seafield Residents & Friends Reply

    To lodge a complaint about the failure of BHCC to undertake full consultation with residents and a thorough impact assessment (promised,but no action yet).
    Complaint to BHCC re 17-18 Seafield Road

  8. saveHOVE Reply

    Right now 17 and 18 Seafield Road are addresses with 10 bedsits/flats in each (unconnected) building with shared kitchens and bathrooms. There are planning applications outstanding for each which seek to make the existing flats and bedsits self-contained. The applicant is not the council. It is a private owner. The application makes no mention of use for a hostel.

    The upgrading is considered by the applicans to not need planning consent and they seek Certificates of Lawfulness instead. Whilst the two applications appear on the planning register, no consultees are listed (why?)

    It may be that if these Certificates of lawfulness are granted that the council will wish to place people in those units but the application form states that these units will be used for C3-dwellnghouses.

    It may be that 17 and 18 are NOT going to be used by the West Pier Project and that some other part of the Street has been identified. Does anyone KNOW?

    What I would say about self-containment of existing units at 17 & 18 is that severely undersized units will be created.

    It is my understanding that HMO’s with shared facilities do not have to be of a minimum size but self-contained studios DO have to be of a minimum size and I am not sure that what is proposed for 17 and 18 meets requirement. That is a detail that needs checking, but I have a feeling that what is proposed does not meet minimum in every unit.

    These two applications go back to November so there is a holdup somewhere for a reason.

  9. Seafield Residents & Friends Reply

    Planning process is all very “mysterious” indeed. Appears to be change of use, but not a planning application. Cert of lawfulness delayed. BHCC sign 7-year lease before planning decision on cert of lawfulness. Health and Well Being Board not consulted either. Lots of anomalies. Definitely the failed West Pier Project proposed for transfer, definitely hostel. Se for more info Twitter: Seafield Rd & Co @Seafielders.
    Meeting at HTH either Friday or Monday TBC.

  10. Trevor Pugh Reply

    This is simply an issue of over intensification of hostel accommodation in one small street. I totally accept that BHCC must provide this accommodation but it should be spread evenly. The councils own Planning Policies require this; to allow integration. They should comply with their own policies as they expect others to. Their objectives in running the hostel will be jeopardised if they don’t as well as the lives of the current residents.

  11. Daniel Harris Reply

    I heard there was a fire last year, this is a breach of contract. Be interesting to find out why the change of use, it to convert it into a place with more rooms? With the recently tabled homelessness reduction act we will see a huge boom in old style bed sits and hostel rooms in the city.

    • Lucy Ambrose Reply

      There was a fire at 7 last year, and despite considerable fire and water damage, vulnerable people have been housed there regardless. The house is currently being worked on, in effect a building site, and still people are housed there. There is also a Children’s home right next to one of the halfway houses. With Sobo adding to the mix, as a resident of the road that the council seems to despise, believe me we live in a mix of noise, anti-social behaviour and utter chaos.

  12. Jacqui Madders Reply

    Alll very well looking to house but the commissioning of these housing contracts are given to very poorly run businesses /charities, suiting the pockets of the landlords and directors, .multiple occupancy houses and houses where there is inadequate daily management for drug and alcohol issues, is bringing the City to its’ knees …all about big pharma /political deals..clueless council re addiction. Evidence based…Worthing is worse …meanwhile young mums get shipped out to Newhaven.

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