PLANS to expand a hostel for homeless people in Eastville have been approved, despite concerns from neighbours about antisocial behaviour.
Places for People has been given permission to build seven new one-bed “compact living spaces” next to its main shelter building off Stonebridge Park, which currently accommodates 27 residents.
People living nearby said hostel residents already caused problems in the area, and an increase in numbers could make things worse.
But councillors said they had to give “great weight” to the numbers of people waiting for accommodation in the city, and voted to grant permission for the project at a planning meeting on September 20.
Neighbour Abi Bartlett told the committee: “I appreciate that Bristol has got a significant housing problem and I support the need for social and supported housing in our city. But the facility as it stands is as big as our community can manage.
She said her family had often been disturbed by “low-level antisocial behaviour” and her children had been intimidated and shouted out by people from the hostel, adding: “One particular evening, my daughter was saying goodbye to friends outside our home, and somebody started shouting at them and banging on our car. My children should be able to stand outside their home without being abused.”
Places for People, which has run the hostel for 20 years, says it will recruit new staff to cope with the increase in residents and seek to address antisocial behaviour.
Head of supported housing Katie Procter said: “We absolutely understand the concerns raised about the proposal, however we don’t agree with them. We will continue to promote open communication between us, the police and the community to deal with any reports of antisocial behaviour.”
New residents would have ‘low to medium support needs’
The charity’s application said the new “compact living spaces” would house “single people with low to medium support needs, not high or complex needs” as they prepared for permanent housing.
Eastville ward Green councillor Lorraine Francis, who had called in the application for a committee decision, raised concerns over increased traffic on nearby Ridgeway Road and road safety issues.
Councillors on the committee said they were “very concerned” about the reports of antisocial behaviour but said it was difficult to address under planning rules.
Andrew Varney (Lib Dem, Brislington West) said: “We have a waiting list of 19,000 households for social housing in Bristol and 1,200 households in temporary accommodation. We have to give that great weight.”
“I would implore the operators of the site to try and improve relationships with local people.”
By Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Picture: The yellow area shows where the new ‘pods’ would be built, as seen from the access lane off Stonebridge Park. Image by Agile Property and Homes