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Controversial supported accommodation proposal for Lowestoft street to be decided

PUBLISHED: 09:33 11 April 2019 | UPDATED: 09:33 11 April 2019

Some of the five properties in Cleveland Road, Lowestoft being proposed for a new supported housing scheme. Pictures: Mark Boggis

Some of the five properties in Cleveland Road, Lowestoft being proposed for a new supported housing scheme. Pictures: Mark Boggis

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Controversial plans to turn five council-owned homes into supported housing are to be voted on next week.

Some of the five properties in Cleveland Road, Lowestoft being proposed for a new supported housing scheme. Pictures: Mark BoggisSome of the five properties in Cleveland Road, Lowestoft being proposed for a new supported housing scheme. Pictures: Mark Boggis

Controversial plans to turn five council-owned homes into supported housing are to be voted on next week.

The proposals, submitted as part of an East Suffolk Council scheme to be managed by MAVAM after completion, would see the houses transformed into 14 units of supported accommodation and are recommended for approval by planning officers.

Residents around Cleveland Road, in Lowestoft, have been left fearing for the area after the plans were revealed earlier this year.

For Monique Brett, the fight is about protecting her daughter Gracie’s quality of life, as she suffers from a rare genetic disorder.

Some of the five properties in Cleveland Road, Lowestoft being proposed for a new supported housing scheme. Pictures: Mark BoggisSome of the five properties in Cleveland Road, Lowestoft being proposed for a new supported housing scheme. Pictures: Mark Boggis

Despite her parents being warned she was unlikely to reach her fifth birthday, Gracie celebrated turning 13 last week.

Mrs Brett said: “I am fighting this because of our daughter. She has really complex special needs and putting vulnerable adults around my vulnerable daughter will mean her life is going to change.

“They are talking about parking in the back gardens but that is where my daughter walks, albeit slowly, and that is her release.

“I know it seems petty but my daughter is going to suffer and that is my fight.

“It wasn’t in the pack when we bought this house, we just wanted a quiet life and the best for my daughter.”

The application notes 60 letters of objection were received from neighbours and community groups, who raised concerns around parking, the impact on the conservation area and fears of an increase in anti-social behaviour and crime.

Mrs Brett said: “I could go out into this street right now and shout for help and everyone would come out to help. My whole life is going to change.

“We have been trying to prove there is a big community spirit here and we have been doing things like a clean-up to help. I put out a shout for people to help fight this because we are stuck right in the middle of these proposals and everyone has done what they can for us.

“I know these places are needed because I was a carer but I strongly feel this road is not suitable, for my daughter, for the flat saturation, and for the conservation problems.”

The proposal will be discussed at a meeting of the East Suffolk shadow planning committee on Tuesday, April 16 at 4pm at the council offices at Riverside, on Canning Road, Lowestoft.

Mrs Brett, who is set to speak at the meeting, said: “I will be talking from the heart as a mum for my daughter.”

The proposals include the introduction of four staff parking spaces at the back of the site, while each of the 14 units will be self-contained and include a bedroom, kitchen and living area, and bathroom.

Two of the homes will be converted to include five flats each, while the remaining three homes will have nine flats between them.

The application includes the consultation from Lowestoft Town Council, who recommended the proposal is rejected.

A spokesperson for East Suffolk Council said: “We are entirely committed to providing a full range of appropriate housing for our communities, including those who are vulnerable and requiring support.

“We would not present such proposals if we believed that there was any reason for local people to be concerned and the portrayal by some of both the scheme, and the potential residents, has at times lacked accuracy.

“The proposals are for the redevelopment of five council-owned properties to deliver supported housing for up to 14 individuals in lease agreement with Mavam Supported Housing who work with vulnerable people aged 16 upwards. The proposals, however, are entirely subject to planning consent and the application will be heard in April.

“The council has stated aims to increase the supply of housing and specifically to deliver new supported housing where demand is at its highest. This proposal seeks to make best use of resources and opportunities available to the council to deliver these objectives.

“The current need for large family homes of this size is not significant and an analysis of recent lettings has shown that only two from the last 10 lettings of these properties have been to a family who actually needed this size of property. Additionally a number of the properties have been empty for some time.

“However, there is a clear need in East Suffolk need for accommodation to house people with Support Needs and transforming these large properties from unpopular and under-occupied family accommodation to good quality supported housing, which meets a high need, is a positive approach making best use of our housing stock.

“All options, including full renovation to attract open market purchasers have been considered, however a maximum value on the current unimproved property does not generate a financial return to warrant the level of work and expenditure required and local estate agents have suggested to us that there would be minimal market interest in these properties for a lawful use as six bedroom dwellings.”

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