Mixed reaction from residents as Starbeck homeless shelter plans approved

Plans to build a homeless shelter in Starbeck, which will provide accommodation for nearly 20 rough sleepers, have been granted approval.

The plans by Harrogate Borough Council have sought to find substantial temporary accommodation for homeless people in the district by providing a permanent shelter open 24 hours, seven days a week.

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But the application, which was voted for approval by six of the 11 councillors on the planning committee, has received nearly 40 objections.

Speaking to the committee on Tuesday, Starbeck resident, Kevin Bates, said: “Whilst we applaud the endeavours of the council to facilitate the homeless we feel the council are not considering the immense pressure a unit of this size will put on an area which already cares for a large number of vulnerable people.”

Mr Bates said that residents and community groups in Starbeck were ‘gravely concerned’ as to how well managed the facility will be, and the increase of service users in the winter months.

He said: “There was a similar facility to this operating in Jennyfields in the 1990s and the locals were subjected to a catalogue of abuse and bullying, therefore we all agree that security is of paramount importance.”

Mr Bates asked if the council could give ‘cast iron guarantees’ that the appropriate arrangements would be made for a facility of this size.

He added: “There is a general belief that Starbeck is being used as a ‘dumping ground’, when surely there must be more suitably placed accommodation close to the centre of town, nearer ammenities.”

When asked by the committee, council officer Graham Brookfield said the council had conducted a search of appropriate sites for the development, but that many had proved ‘too costly’.

But following the meeting, another Starbeck resident, Andy Dennis, said he welcomed the decision.

He said: “I welcome the homeless accommodation and felt reassured at the open days in Starbeck that there will be continuous staffing and that the people who live there will receive support. I live at most 50 yards from this site.

“I do not share the ‘not in my back yard’ philosophy of some who are objecting to this development. I think that we are morally obliged to help those who are struggling in life, as a nurse with both the NHS and Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) I have devoted my life to caring for people in adverse circumstances.”