CONTROVERSIAL plans have been lodged to convert two Chester properties previously used as student rooms into staffed accommodation for the homeless.

Cheshire West and Chester Council is proposing to provide a mix of studios and rooms for 21 people in need of support at both 26-27 and 28 Brook Lane.

The properties, which have been empty for more than two years, would be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by a total of nine workers on a shift pattern.

The two planning applications, which are both for change of use from a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) into supported accommodation for the homeless, have been met with opposition from local residents.

An online petition – Residents against Homeless Shelter at Brook Lane, Chester – has been supported by more than 100 people – a number of which have raised fears of anti-social behaviour.

The petition states: "The proposed shelter is on a school route. The residential area is a location of privately-owned, well maintained, high value properties, and house values would plummet/houses would not sell in that area if this went ahead."

One supporter posted: "I support the idea of a homeless shelter but not in a residential area when other sites are available."

Another stated: "This is just not the right area for a homeless shelter. I know you could say this about a lot of places but this is the middle of a thoroughfare from some of the biggest suburbs to Chester in Upton. Kingsway, lower part of Hoole perhaps, just seems very inappropriately placed."

The proposal at 26-27 Brook Lane is for 13 studios/rooms – two of which will provide self-contained accommodation with both a kitchenette and bathroom, four will have an en-suite bathroom, four will have a kitchenette and share a bathroom, and three will share both bathroom and kitchen facilities.

An office is proposed for staff at the front of the property and a separate dedicated staff toilet.

At 28 Brook Lane, the proposal is for a total of eight studios/rooms – three of which are self-contained units with both a kitchenette and bathroom, one has an en-suite bathroom, three have a kitchenette and share a bathroom, and one shares both bathroom and kitchen facilities.

In its planning application, Cheshire West and Chester Council states: "The property will provide move-on accommodation for homeless clients who would move from emergency accommodation or hotels into this property.

"This scheme will help residents become tenancy ready for their own property in 6-12 months time. The properties will be staffed 24/7 by the council’s commissioned homeless support provider, ForFutures.

"The proposal is for five daytime and four night-time staff to provide support to 13 residents at this property and another eight residents at No.28 Brook Lane.

"There will be two daytime staff and two night-time staff always on shift in 26-27 Brook Lane, with a total of nine staff to cover this shift pattern.

"The staff will cover this property and No.28 Brook Lane. CCTV will be used in both properties and will cover external areas.

"The property has been used as student accommodation until recently and the interior is not fit for purpose.

"We aim to provide modern, clean, bright and comfortable accommodation still in-keeping with the older style of the property – not clinical but welcoming and fresh.

"There are real benefits from the outdoor space at the property and once clients are living there, the plan is for staff alongside clients to develop raised beds and borders in the garden area.

"The existing hedge surrounding the property on both Brook Lane and Newry Park will be retained and maintained.

"The provision of this accommodation forms a vital part of the council’s strategy to increase the supply of supported housing, reduce the use of hotel accommodation for people who are homeless and ultimately reduce the number of people who are homeless."

  • Residents have until October 8 to have their say on the proposals.