The future of a Newport homeless hostel is now uncertain after the Isle of Wight Council rejected its request to take off a ‘safety net’ timeframe.
Deciding in favour of Castle Road residents who had objected to the scheme, the council’s planning committee voted to keep a condition that limits a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) on Castle Road to operating for 3 years. The committee did so to ensure the applicants Two Saints operated in best practice and dealt with any issues properly.
However, plans stalled since the original permission was granted in July, due to funding complications. Two Saints was hoping to receive money from Homes England to buy the Castle Lodge B&B, make changes and charge an affordable rent. The 3-year stipulation, however, was not welcomed by the funding body, who said it only supported projects with a longer, guaranteed, lifespan of 35 years.
Speaking at the planning meeting yesterday, Two Saints’ regional director James McDermott said there was a very real housing crisis on the Island which is only going to be worsened as the housing prices continue to rise. Mr McDermott said it was the last thing on their mind to bring this back before the planning committee but wanted to confirm their commitment to the council in reducing homelessness, in line with the council’s strategy through to 2024, to ensure everyone on the Island has a place they can call home.
He said the HMO would give people an opportunity to live their lives while bringing extensive support to the community.
However, a Castle Road resident representative said they had lost all trust and faith in Two Saints but thanked the committee for originally installing the 3-year probation period, providing a protective safety net for residents.
Councillor Joe Lever, who was unable to attend the meeting, said the committee only had to answer one simple question to determine whether the application should be granted — whether ‘the actions of Two Saints or new information put forward significantly resolved the concerns the committee had to warrant the removal’.
Councillor Matt Price, who suggested installing a time condition in June, said he had come into the meeting wanting to be convinced by Two Saints but had been provided with very little and questioned whether anyone felt more comfortable than they had done previously.
After originally being sceptical of the 3-year timeframe, Councillor Geoff Brodie said his view on the application had changed following problems in his ward with the Howard’s House Assessment Hub, a stage 1 homeless support centre at the former Barton Primary School. He said the 3-year condition for Castle Lodge, which would be a stage 2 homeless support, was a safety net his residents did not get.
Councillor Chris Jarman said it had been made clear to him that while the Island had a housing crisis, it needed to be managed and well maintained to benefit everyone and the opt-out clause of the application was critical.
All but 1 of the 11 councillors on the committee voted to reject the application, with Councillor Michael Beston abstaining from the vote.
Two Saints has been contacted for a comment.