Residents petition against proposed hostel for ‘people with low needs’


A sign protesting the hostel that has plans to be turned into a hostel. - Credit: supplied

More than 20 households in the Peartree Lane area, Welwyn Garden City, signed a petition against Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council turning a house into a hostel for ‘people with low needs’.

Residents from 24 households say that the council, after buying the property, did not inform them of the proposals, only sending a few nearby houses a letter about a ground floor extension.

Peartree Lane already hosts a hostel, which a resident claims is a "source of constant antisocial behaviour and drug dealing".

The resident told this paper: "The last thing we want is another hostel.

"I repeatedly requested information from the housing department, which was stonewalled until I put in a Freedom of Information request.

"As a result Cllr Malcom Cowan [leader of the Lib Dem group] was just given a very sketchy outline of the proposals.

"These unelected civil servants think they can just ride roughshod over local council taxpayers using over half a million pounds of our money. They have treated us with contempt and are still refusing to hold a proper consultation.”

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However, in response to a letter on the topic in the Welwyn Hatfield Times, Councillor Nick Pace, executive member housing and community, said: "With regard to the property on Peartree Lane, this has been recently purchased by the council, using funds from the sale of council homes under the Right to Buy, and we are currently going through the statutory planning application and consultation process to add a single-storey extension to the property.

"This includes consultation with local residents and the opportunity for them to submit their comments. Subject to planning approval, this property will be leased to a local charity and provide homes for five young people.

"The proposed extension will provide sufficient space for a support worker, who will reside at the house."

Cllr Pace finished the letter by adding: "The housing shortage is a real and major issue that weighs heavy on the whole country. Only by addressing it, can we help to ensure our communities continue to thrive and prosper now and in the future."

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