CONTROVERSIAL proposals to open a ‘homeless hub’ in Boughton have been recommended for approval despite overwhelming opposition from residents.
Following a consultation process and a 1,300-signature petition against the proposed shelter at Richmond Court, campaigners have been dealt a hammer blow by Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) after the plans were recommended for approval.
Despite the fact that 85 per cent of the comments received from residents objected to the proposals, the homeless strategy implementation task group recommended in their report to the CWaC executive that the relocation of homeless services from the city centre to Boughton should be given the green light.
Under the banner of Residents For Democracy, campaigners have fought tirelessly since the plans were first revealed in June last year following the award of contract for the site to Foundation Enterprises North West (FENW).
They action group claimed the relocation of homeless services would have a damaging effect on the Boughton community, posing a hazard to residents’ safety, and the group criticised the decision making process of CWaC throughout proceedings, labelling it as ‘undemocratic’.
Boughton councillor David Robinson, who has been backing the residents throughout, said: “After 12 weeks of consultation with more than 900 residents taking part and well over 1,000 comments, 85 per cent of which objected to the location with 86 per cent objecting to the process, the council has chosen to ride roughshod over local feelings.
“Chester city centre has been the successful base for homeless provision for 40 years. Vulnerable people are near to support services, casual work opportunities and discounted food sources.
“On the other hand Richmond Court is in a quiet long established residential area with limited local facilities. Its out of town position and canalside location gives it limited support from police and community offices compared with the city centre. For CWaC it seems to be a case of out of sight out of mind.”
However, despite the strong public opinion, the campaign appears to be doomed, with the decision on the final recommendation to be made by CWaC chiefs at the executive meeting next Tuesday.
One leading campaigner, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I am just staggered at the recommendation and it comes as a massive blow to us. There was no alternative ever suggested and I just don’t think they ever considered one. I am speechless by what has been done and the way that they have conducted themselves in such an undemocratic way.”
In the report, the council’s homeless strategy implementation task group stated: “Whilst there remain local concerns from residents and businesses about how the new service will operate and general anxieties about the client group, there have been no new or substantial evidence-based reasons emerging from the intensive consultation as to why the council should not base the new service at Richmond Court.
“Consequently, the Executive reaffirms the decision to locate the new Homelessness service at Richmond Court, Boughton as set out in the formal procurement process.”