Hundreds of residents are objecting to plans for a former Hartlepool hotel to house people with drink problems.
Melbourne House, in Stockton Road, closed just 18 months after relaunching as a hotel after £300,000 of public money was spent on it by owners Hartlepool NDC Trust.
It is worrying and frustratingResident Mary Landreth
The charitable company has been approached by Sanctuary Supported Living which wants to relocate its supported living service from Grange Road to Melbourne House.
The organisation, which has provided the service for people dependant on alcohol from Grange Road for six years, was awarded a new tender by Hartlepool Borough Council last year.
But Sanctuary says the current property has been deemed unfit for purpose because all clients need en-suite facilities.
Worried residents and businesses near Melbourne House say it is not a suitable location and fear the new tenants will bring anti-social disorder to the area.
The Stockton Road Area Residents Association is leading a campaign against the plans and has called a public meeting for tomorrow night.
Chairman Evelyn Leck, who alone has collected over 300 signatures in a petition, said: “Melbourne House was purchased with NDC public money to improve the lives of NDC residents in Hartlepool. They spent £300,000 on refurbishing it so they could train young men and women in the hotel business and it never materialised. We object to using it instead for alcoholics when it should be used for training with the mass unemployment in Hartlepool.”
Resident Mary Landreth added: “We fought for years to get the alcoholics out of the Burn Valley which is only 50 yards away and now they want to bring them back.
“There is an infants and juniors school at the back of these houses. It is worrying and frustrating.”
Fiona Cook, local Service Development Manager for Sanctuary Supported Living said: “For the past six years we have been supporting people in Hartlepool who need both housing and support with alcohol dependency. Because our service has been so successful in helping clients to recover and move into permanent housing, we have agreed with the local authority to take on further work.
“We have a good relationship with our current neighbours, but we need to move to a larger facility to meet the growing demand, and will be working with local councillors and residents to help decide the most appropriate location for the expanded service.” Hartlepool NDC Trust, formed out of the legacy of the town’s £54 million Government-funded New Deal for Communities Programme, stressed it is just one of a number of proposals for the venue’s future use and no decision has yet been made.
A Hartlepool NDC Trust spokesman said: “Sanctuary are one of a number of interested parties who have made enquiries about Melbourne House and we are still weighing up all the options.”
Hartlepool council confirmed Sanctuary would require planning permission for a change of use to move the service to Melbourne House, and no application has been made yet.
At Thursday night’s full council meeting, councillors resolved talk to Sanctuary about the proposal.
The public meeting, organised by the residents association, is at Ye Olde Durhams social club, St Aidan’s Street, on Tuesday, and starts at 7pm.
Councillors, police and council representatives are due to attend.