Shropshire Star

Residents express continuing concerns about Shrewsbury homeless supported housing plan

Residents turned out in numbers again to express opposition to a controversial plan for supported housing for the homeless amid concerns of continuing antisocial behaviour in Shrewsbury.

Resident Nick Barnes, left, with councillors Alex Wagner and Nat Green, right

Much of Friday's meeting discussed a new management plan that Shropshire Council has put forward for the running of the 25 self-contained flats at Coton Hill House.

It was the second such meeting organised by the PORCH campaign group over the issue following a packed initial meeting.

Residents have experienced anti-social behaviour in the area, including when the former residential home was used on an emergency basis during the pandemic to house rough sleepers with complex problems.

The meeting heard that the new plan says that rough sleepers will not be housed there until they have "successfully completed the transition from rough sleeping to sustaining and maintaining accommodation."

A range of other homeless priority cases will also be considered, including pregnant women, vulnerable elderly or people with a mental illness, or having been remanded in custody.

Nick Barnes, of the PORCH campaign group, said it was a "significant change" in the council's approach.

"It is a massive win for us."

But there remain huge doubts over the council's approach and criticisms over what members of the public see as "misinformation" about crime figures and the believability of other statements from the council.

Councillor Nat Green said it was his "hunch" that the application will be decided at a meeting in November, not October.

Campaigners plan to use that time to respond to the new management plan and add their opposition.

Some at the meeting spoke of their continued total opposition to the scheme. Petition forms were being signed at the meeting in Quaker Meeting House, in Corporation Lane, and are available at local pubs.

Mr Barnes said: "We have been lied to and we are still being lied to. How do we know that these things are going to happen?"

Councillor Green said now the plans are in writing, if the plan is given the go-ahead, there will be legal sanctions if conditions are breached.

Councillor Alex Wagner, who is neutral on the plan but has been helping the group navigate its way through the planning process, said: "We have been given the clearest answer to the question of who will be in there."

But a member of the public said: "We still don't want it there."

Mr Barnes spoke of a possible "triangle of expanded issues of antisocial behaviour" from the Shrewsbury Ark, to Shrewsbury town centre and Coton Hill.

Councillor Wagner urged residents to get involved in the planning process but said the new management plan marked a "radical, radical change" in what the council was proposing.

And Mr Barnes said the new management plan "would not have happened" without the points made by the community.