YMCA proves a hit at old HMV for Brighton’s homeless

Posted On 10 Dec 2014 at 5:47 pm

The YMCA has been given permission to turn the old HMV in Western Road, Brighton, into a 20-bed managed property for people who have been homeless.

The ground floor of the 1920s building, on the corner of Stone Street and Castle Street, would still be used as a shop.

More than two dozen objections were sent to Brighton and Hove City Council. At least one highlighted “problems with hostels in Regency Square” and it was claimed that “there are too many HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) in the area”.

Objectors from neighbouring streets told the council’s Planning Committee that they feared a loss of amenity and nuisance.

One told the meeting at Hove Town Hall that anti-social behaviour and drug dealing were already a problem in the area.

Chas Walker, executive director of YMCA Downslink, formerly the Sussex Central YMCA, also addressed the Planning Committee.

He said that Brighton and Hove already had a housing shortage, affecting young people in particular, with high demand but an extensive and expensive private rented sector.

He emphasised that the property would not be a hostel but “moving on” accommodation for 18 to 35 year olds.

Those living in the building would be known to the YMCA, many of them would be in work and a member of staff would be on site at all times.

Councillor Alex Phillips said: “This is a really wonderful application. It looks like a fantastic stepping stone for those young people in need.”

She said that they would be local young people – and the 24-hour presence of a manager provided reassurance about some of the worries raised by local residents.

Councillor Geoff Wells said that he was pleased to see an empty space above a shop was being brought back into use.

Councillor Ian Davey was encouraged to hear that there would be local managers on site and urged the YMCA to let neighbours know who they could contact should problems arise.

Councillor Graham Cox said that if the building was restored well during the conversion, it would encourage greater pride in it among those living there. He said that it would pay off if the YMCA went beyond the minimum requirements of the planning conditions.

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said: The building looks quite sad at the momet. It’s a very handsome building.

“I was concerned when this proposal came forward but I’m reassured by the conditions.

“This could be the renaissaince of the building.

“My hope is that can help the community recover from the problems it suffers from rather than adding to them.”

He added that he hoped it would also help the young people who would live there.

He also hoped that the YMCA would listen to residents.

Councillors approved the plans unanimously.

The council’s Housing Committee chairman Councillor Bill Randall, who watched the meeting, said afterwards: “I am really pleased that this proposal has been approved by the committee.

“There is a desperate shortage of affordable housing for young people in the city and the YMCA has a strong track record on managing it’s accommodation very well.

“And bringing this building back to life will enhance the area and reduce local social problems.”

  1. Rostrum Reply

    Western Road…… are you mad?
    It’s a commercial building and the council needs to encourage commercial activities….

    Get a grip…..

  2. Rostrum Reply

    Are the council mad?
    Do they think this reflects what’s of the people of this city want?
    Is this the best for the commercial heartland of our city?
    Or .. Does it just pander to their own political agenda?

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