‘We’re not snobby,’ insist objectors to hostel plan

Residents unhappy about scheme to turn ex nursing home into housing for rough sleepers

Friday, 23rd July

Stacey Street

Neighbours hand in their petition

A BATTLE over the future of a former nursing home has opened up with objections to it being turned into a rough sleepers’ hostel.

Neighbours insist they are “not being snobby” over the plans for the building in Stacey Street as Islington Council lays out plans to create housing for 30 homeless people with complex needs.

The site is at the centre of the Isledon village estate where residents compiled a petition against the scheme. It was handed to Labour councillors yesterday (Thursday).

Karen Forey, who has lived on the estate for 28 years, said: “It’s the last thing we need. We’ve got a park at the front of the estate which has become a haven for drug addicts so we can’t even bring our children there anymore.”

She added: “Everyone I’ve spoken to in the community is so supportive of the homeless and wants to help. However, we can’t see that it’s going to be beneficial to us to have them all in one place. It’s not us being snobby, I really want to see all of those 30 people housed.”

The objectors say there was no consultation over the council’s proposal.

Les Tate, 75, who has lived on the estate for 12 years, said: “As an older person, I’ve brought up children here. The council’s plans are a bad choice for a family-oriented estate and have the potential to cause aggravation on top of the ongoing drug issues in the area.”

The estate currently has three supported housing blocks, which residents say should not be next to a new hostel.

There have also raised concerns over existing problems with drug dealing in the area, including addicts openly injecting in the park, fights, bin areas on the estate being used as a toilet, mugging and aggressive begging.

Ward councillor Gary Heather said: “We’re very aware that there’s drug and homelessness problems in the borough. We were pleased to receive the residents’ petition, which will be presented at a full council meeting.

“Hopefully we can provide a facility here, but not one that will provide any crime or safety risk to the local community or the people that will occupy the building.”

Residents have suggested half of the nursing home is converted into general needs social housing and the other half into a smaller rough sleepers’ unit and a community centre for the estate.

Islington’s housing chief Councillor Diarmaid Ward said: “The homeless hub we’re proposing at Stacey Street will make good use of a former nursing home to provide the specialist support rough sleepers need.

“It will be run by an experienced partner agency who will ensure that it has minimal impact on nearby residents while at the same time providing vulnerable people the compassionate help they need to move off the streets. We are committed to listening to local people, and will carefully consider the concerns that have been raised in this petition.”

The project will be funded by the Greater London Assembly’s Rough Sleeper Accommodation programme.

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