A charity supporting homeless people has secured planning permission to use a former hotel as a hostel.
St Mungo’s has used the Smart Sea View Hostel in St Catherine’s Terrace, Hove, for former rough sleepers as part of Brighton and Hove City Council’s No Second Night Out service since October.
The retrospective application to use the site as a 50-bedroom hostel secured support from five of the seven councillors at the Planning Committee meeting on Wednesday, 8 June.
Ahead of the meeting, the council received 61 objections and four letters of support for the application for St Mungo’s to use the site as a hostel for two years.
Objectors shared concerns about anti-social behaviour (ASB) and the cumulative impact of other hostels in the area.
Central Hove councillor Gary Wilkinson spoke on behalf of neighbours, saying so far this year, there have been 38 incidents, 11 emergency calls, and ten urgent calls linked with the location.
He said: “Smart Seaview hotel, as it used to be, was never the most salubrious place and looked pretty run-own and overdue renovation.
“But it never gave cause for concern for local residents. Now it is somewhere many residents pass in the evenings with more caution.
“I’ve been informed that many people circumnavigate the site from a fear of anti-social behaviour and because it does not feel safe.”
Before St Mungo’s took over the site, the council used it as emergency housing.
St Mungo’s services director Dan Olney who is responsible for No Second Night Out said the service had supported 321 people away from rough sleeping and aimed to move people on to housing or reconnect them with their former homes as quickly as possible.
He said: “Since October 21, when we moved in, and April 22, there weren’t any reports of ASB linked to the project.
“In February 21, there were 67 when there were no staff on site. Our locality management plan includes clients signing good neighbour agreements, regular patrols, and the community have our direct number so we can respond immediately.”
Mr Olney said St Mungo’s wanted to be good neighbours and help people move on positively in their lives.
Labour councillor Nick Childs voted against the application sharing his concerns about the hostel’s size.
He said: “The work St Mungos does to help some of the most vulnerable people in our community is laudable, but what troubles me about this application is the scale, the size.
“I’m afraid I’ve seen too many times how large-scale concentrations of people with very complex needs and serious difficulties can lead to attracting more anti-social behaviour.”
Councillor Childs said he would rather see the council buy the building and convert it into much-needed social housing.
Green councillor Sue Shanks supported the application and said she would like to visit at some point in the future.
She said: “I think I would like us all to support this. It is very important.
“We’ve got a lot of people sleeping rough, and it’s often people who are in a desperate situation.”
Conservative councillor Carol Theobald said she thinks the building is lovely and voted to grant permission.
She said: “It could be reverted back to a nice hotel or flats, but this at the moment is a good use as a temporary use.
“We do need support for these people. It’s much better than being on the streets.”