Neighbours to be consulted about plan for homeless flats next to Brighton pub and primary school

Neighbours are to be consulted about a £3 million scheme to build flats for homeless older adults next to a pub and opposite a primary school.

And council chiefs are to start the search for a suitable provider of support services to help the 12 or 13 former problem drinkers or drug users who will live there.

The old Hollingbury Library in Carden Hill in Brighton

A senior Labour councillor said that people with high-level or complex needs would not be placed in the flats which are planned for the old Hollingbury Library site in Carden Hill.

Councillor Tracey Hill also said that there was a similar scheme in her ward, Hollingdean and Stanmer, but most people would not be aware that it was there.

Councillor Hill, the new chair of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Housing and New Homes Committee, said that neighbours would be consulted.

When the committee met at Hove Town Hall this afternoon (Wednesday 13 March) Hollingbury resident Sam Zubaidi asked Councillor Hill what consideration had been given to the nearby primary school and the site being next to a pub.

Mr Zubaidi also asked if committee members lived near similar schemes and how they affected the area.

Conservative councillor Andrew Wealls said that there had been issues in his Central Hove ward with the Equinox project, a rehabilitation hostel in Seafield Road.

He asked what the difference was between the Hollingbury project and the Equinox scheme.

He was told that anyone moving into the proposed flats would be assessed for their suitability to ensure that they were ready to take the next step to independence.

His fellow Central Hove councillor, Labour’s Clare Moonan, said that she was equally aware of the issues with Equinox.

Councillor Tracey Hill

Councillor Moonan said that it was important to make sure hostels were not a burden on one particular area.

She added: “I have been to quite a lot of supported accommodation in the city and residents do not know it is there if it is well managed and well supported. It can have a very low impact.”

Conservative councillor Mary Mears objected to the way that the Hollingbury project was being financed, using money from the council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA).

She urged the committee not to spend any HRA money on the social care aspect of the scheme and said: “This is just another attempt by the administration to use the HRA as a cash cow for other projects in the council. This budget is made up from residents’ rents and we cannot support this.”

The support services are expected to cost £150,000 a year for five years on top of the £3.1 million cost of building 12 or 13 flats and an office on the library site.

Councillor Anne Meadows, who chaired the committee until she defected from Labour to the Tories last month, backed Councillor Mears.

Councillor Meadows said that she was against giving a blank cheque to the adult social care department and handing it the building.

Councillor Lee Wares

Green councillor Dick Page said: “Show some compassion for the most vulnerable residents.

“Support for vulnerable residents comes from adult social care and we are where we are.”

Green councillor David Gibson stressed the importance of listening to residents. He said: “For residents the consultation needs to be thorough and meaningful. I really hope the consultation is done very thoroughly.”

Conservative councillor Lee Wares asked the committee whether the issue of equality for people living in the area had been considered.

In a letter that he sent to the committee before the meeting he shared concerns that people with high needs would be housed in the area with insufficient support.

After listening to the debate he said: “Regretfully, despite the warm words of Labour and Green councillors that residents of Patcham and Hollingbury will be consulted, it appears that they have already made up their minds to push this scheme through, irrespective of the concerns of residents and regardless of if the location is suitable for clients.”

The scheme – next to the County Oak pub and opposite Carden Primary School – will move to the consultation phase after Labour and Green councillor gave it their backing.

  1. Margo Reply

    Seems like a sensible area where this should blend in.

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