Former Sheffield hotel should not be converted into homeless hostel, say council officers

A company which wants to convert a former hotel into bedsits for homeless people has been lambasted by a senior director at Sheffield Council.

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 10:02 am

Planning officers are advising councillors to refuse an application to convert Staindrop Lodge Hotel in Chapeltown at a meeting next week.

The hotel closed in March 2020 in response to the pandemic and was leased by Sheffield Council to accommodate homeless people under the Government’s emergency coronavirus legislation.

The council arrangement ended in June 2021 but the Fairhome Group wants the hotel to become permanent homeless accommodation.

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The hotel.

More than 300 residents, Miriam Cates MP and Ecclesfield Parish Council objected and – in an unusual move – the council’s own director of housing has also heavily criticised the plans.

Janet Sharpe said the development wasn’t suitable for the area and wouldn’t provide the level of support needed.

She said the council has no agreements with the developer to make referrals to its services, nor to commission services, nor had she received any communication about whether the building was suitable.

“I am concerned that a number of statements in the application indicate Sheffield Council is providing a similar service at the same location and will make referrals to the proposed scheme. Neither of these statements are true.

“The concentration of 44 bedsits for people who have been or are at risk of being homeless, including some with multiple and complex needs, could have a significant impact on the living conditions of the occupiers and local community.

“The council placed homeless people at Staindrop Lodge in response to the Government’s directive, this was a maximum of 36 people and residents are not allowed to have non-residents into the accommodation.

“These are short-term placements with daily on-site support from specialist housing staff and agencies including mental and physical health, and drug and alcohol services.

“Each person has an agreed support plan and is rehoused as soon as possible into a suitable supported property. In recognition of the vulnerability of the residents, we provide 24 hour on-site officer and a security presence.

“The application does not include any proposal to provide similar staffing or support or any details of impact on the local community.

“Other than a very small gym the plans do not include any communal facilities for officers to enable support to be provided to vulnerable residents.

“Residents would be placed without the wraparound support in an area not equipped to meet their needs, or close to their own support networks.

“This is likely to result in challenging behaviours impacting on residents of the building, the local community and placements being abandoned.”

Ms Sharpe said local doctor surgeries and pharmacies may not be equipped to support a group with complex needs.

She added the small size of the units would probably mean a high turnover of properties that became increasingly difficult to let and created significant tenancy management issues.

Councillors will make a decision on Tuesday, July 27, the application can be viewed here