Plans to house recovering drugs addicts and alcoholics in an old brewery in Portslade have been put on hold by Brighton and Hove City Council.
The move comes a day after two Labour councillors – Alan Robins and Les Hamilton – urged the council and NHS bosses to pause the project and allow time for a proper public consultation.
The two South Portslade councillors spoke out after Independent councillor Peter Atkinson, who represents North Portslade, shared details of the proposal on Facebook at the weekend.
The council said this afternoon (Tuesday 4 October) that it had “received clarification from the NHS commissioning team (about) how the site would operate and be managed”.
A decision had been reached under planning law that “given the level of care” there would have to be a planning application because the proposal would amount to a change of use.
The old brewery, also known locally as Le Carbone, in High Street, in the Old Village, has been turned into “upmarket” flats, with a gym due to open on the ground floor.
But in the summer a 10-year lease was signed to enable the site to be run as supported housing or a hostel – a place to stay for those in need – for 60 people with complex mental health needs.
Many would be recovering drugs addicts and alcoholics and their care would be the responsibility of a newly appointed national charity called Saint John of God (SJOG) Hospitaller Services.
SJOG is taking over contracts currently held by BHT Sussex, formerly known as Brighton Housing Trust, and the housing association Sanctuary.
Separately, a planning application was submitted late last year to allow a change of use for the ground-floor gym but it remains “outstanding”.
The council said: “It is our view that they would need planning permission to operate as a gym.”
After the council paused the plans today (Tuesday 4 October), Councillor Hamilton said: “That’s going to give a lot more time for the residents of Portslade to make their views known on this issue.”
He urged those behind the plans to make a reasoned case for their proposals, with some residents planning a public meeting next week.
The old brewery is just yards away from the two pubs in the Old Village but some distance away from Portslade’s main doctors’ surgeries, shops and takeaways.
Councillor Hamilton said that he would retain an open mind on the plans but that the public should have their say “in the interests of openness and transparency”.
Yesterday, Councillor Robins said that the plea for the council and NHS bosses to put their plans on hold was not a case of trying to demonise anyone.
He said that local residents should have an opportunity to comment on the proposals, adding: “It may be their fears are unfounded and the council and NHS commissioners can reassure residents.
“But we need to give local people a chance to know what the proposals are, meet the organisation who will be running things and explore any concerns they might have.
This is what the nearby homeless charity Emmaus did before it opened in 1997, he said, and it had been welcomed by the vast majority of its neighbours.
Councillor Atkinson said at the weekend that “residents and councillors (should) have had a chance to learn more about the plans, raise any concerns they might have and ask questions”, adding: “We need a full and thorough consultation.”
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