Decision on care home conversion to house the homeless in Portsmouth postponed

PLANS for the first development of its kind in Portsmouth to house the homeless have been delayed after 'confusion' over the public having their say.

Thursday, 23rd July 2020, 4:41 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd July 2020, 5:35 pm
The former Abbey Way care home in Drayton which could be turned into temporary accommodation for the homeless. Credit: The Society of St James

A decision on the conversion of a disused care home in Havant Road, in Drayton, into 13 self-contained flats, which will be used to help former rough sleepers 'move on' to other accommodation, has been deferred until a later date.

The proposals were due to be heard during a virtual planning committee meeting this week, however, they caused controversy after it was revealed the closing date for residents to make deputations was before the agenda for the meeting was actually released.

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Although more than 100 objections were made, only two deputations were submitted in time.

Conservative group leader, Councillor Donna Jones, branded the situation a 'disgrace.'

Speaking at the meeting she said: 'There's been a bit of confusion about deadlines and deputations.

'I really do think we would get over 100 representations made but they won't be considered today because the standing order changed.

'How in God's name can a member of the public make a request to make a deputation before it appears on the agenda? Are they supposed to be mind readers?

'We need to defer in the interest of democracy.'

Concerns raised by residents included fears too many units were being provided for the size of the former Abbeyway House and that the proposed three parking spaces was not enough.

Cllr Lee Hunt added: 'I am keen to go on with what we want to do. However, I am extremely concerned we didn't hear all the views about this in the normal way.'

Four councillors voted in favour of a deferral and one abstained.

A total of 105 objections have been raised about the plans, and six letters of support have been submitted.

The care home has been used to temporarily house rough sleepers during the coronavirus pandemic under government instruction but it is planned they will move out by the end of August.

As part of the proposals no changes will be made to the outside of the existing building or the grounds.

If approved it is planned staff from homelessness charity the Society of St James will remain on site to assist the residents.

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