Conversion plans for St Albans homeless centre move forwards
PUBLISHED: 19:15 17 July 2015
The demolition of a conservatory adjoining a former care home in St Albans city centre is included in a change-of-use request for its conversion into temporary housing for homeless people.
Hightown Praetorian and Churches Housing Association has recently submitted an application to the district council to convert St Claire’s in Church Crescent into 10 self-contained studio apartments.
The bid, prepared by DLA Town Planning, says that the locally listed building, constructed in the late 1800s, would be used to provide short-term accommodation for single adults who are being assessed or have been accepted as homeless.
On average in St Albans, tenants stay in temporary accommodation for around six months, waiting for permanent housing.
The mooted conversion has at times been controversial, with some residents supporting the effort to house the homeless, while others have voiced concern about the ‘transient nature’ of those likely to live there.
The council stepped in earlier this year to offer funding to enable the association to lower the originally proposed density of 16 bedrooms with shared bathrooms to 10 self-contained units following criticism from campaigners.
Cllr Simon Grover has called in the application for determination by a planning committee because of the controversy surrounding it, particularly in light of a recent large public - at times heated - debate held at the council.
He said that it would be a significant development in the conservation area, and there was also concern about the impact on local parking.
Consultation on the scheme (application number 5/2015/1595) ends on July 29.