Go-ahead for £3m Stevenage hostel

An artist's impression of what the new complex would look like

An artist's impression of what the new complex would look like - Credit: Archant

A HOSTEL for the homeless has been given the green light to expand despite concerns over anti-social behaviour.

The Haven in Ditchmore Lane, Stevenage, will move from its current 18-bed property to an adjacent purpose-built hostel for up to 40 homeless people in small ensuite rooms.

The £3m development by North Hertfordshire Homes will also see the refurbishment of three disused houses in Ditchmore Lane, creating two five-bed houses and a one-bed flat, as well as five additional bungalows.

The Haven’s chairman of trustees Richard Ball told Stevenage borough councillors at Tuesday’s planning committee that expansion was necessary to meet a growing demand.

He said: “We turn away around 500 people a year. The reason we are asking for more room is because the problem is growing.

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“We are talking about human beings here and we have at least some small responsibility for taking care of them. People are losing their jobs, their benefits, their homes and they are coming in our direction. Our staff do an excellent job and what we are asking is to be given the facilities to improve on that further.”

Old Town resident David Wannerton criticised the proposal amid concerns over growing problems with anti-social behaviour.

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He said: “I’m absolutely appalled this has got to this point. My children are going to be growing up here and we are talking about people who have drug and alcohol problems.”

Cllr Michelle Gardner questioned whether there was a problem with anti-social behaviour.

She said: “Where is the evidence to say it will get worse?”

Representing The Gate Hotel situated nearby, Philip Hughes criticised the loss of trees under the plans which affect the Stevenage Old Town Conservation Area.

“The loss of green space would be horrendous and the damage to the conservation area would be significant and irreversible,” he said.

Building work is due to start this month ahead of an expected completion date in summer 2014.

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