Decision made over plans to turn former Sheffield hotel into homeless hostel that has sparked protests

Plans to convert a former hotel into 44 bedsits for homeless people have been unanimously refused by councillors.

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 12:03 pm

Staindrop Lodge Hotel in Chapeltown 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 wanted the hotel to become permanent homeless accommodation.

More than 300 residents and Ecclesfield Parish Council objected. There had been a catalogue of complaints about antisocial behaviour and Miriam Cates MP said crime had shot up by 675 per cent.

The hotel.

Even the council’s own director of housing Janet Sharpe objected, saying the premises were unsuitable with no support network for homeless people.

Local councillors said the major problem was support services were based in the city centre and there was limited outreach work in Chapeltown.

The planning board also heard some of the rooms were well below national standards for space – some just 20sqm compared to guidelines of 37sqm.

Former councillor Andy Bainbridge presented a petition with 1,345 names.

“This is a residential community, it was ideal for a hotel, but it was used for homeless people because of Covid and the government directive.

“Gradually the council has been trying to move people out from there because they have caused a lot of problems.

“The police have been called out on a number of occasions and I have personally seen needles, bottles and cans thrown into the gardens of people who live around there.

“In the middle of the night I’ve heard people shouting and screaming and hanging out of windows.”

Councillors took their own planning officers’ advice that the scheme should be rejected.

Coun Tony Damms said: “I do have some experience as for three years I was regional organiser for Shelter and for 20 years I worked for two specialist housing associations, accommodating the kind of people we’re talking about.

“Hostels can work and can be a valuable part of rehab for people but they have to be properly supervised and they need specialist support. This is far too isolated.

“Properly run, managed and supervised, hostels can prepare people for independent living and can be very useful but this proposal is none of that. We need more accommodation for vulnerable people but this isn’t it.”

Coun Peter Price added: “This is totally inappropriate, it’s too large, it hasn’t got the support nearby, and it would make the accommodation poorer for these people.

“These people need help and we’ve got to look elsewhere for smaller units that have the supporting communities.

“I think this will be a disaster within a very few months, it will be a problem for not just the community but for the residents themselves.”

Coun Andrew Sangar said 44 rooms was too big for homeless accommodation.

“The wraparound services are largely found within the city centre so putting something out in Chapeltown is not going to work, it’s the wrong size, in the wrong location.”