Yeovil homeless hostel rejected
The Area South planning meeting last night was not a short affair. The main item on the agenda was the plan to turn Acacia Lodge on Hendford Hill, Yeovil into a 39 bed homeless hostel.
SSDC had already voted funds to the project giving all councillors a potential conflict of interest.
The officer’s report was produced just 10 days before a rushed planning meeting. Council Leader Val Keitch had insisted on an August meeting against the wishes of her fellow councillors. If she had hoped that would allow the application to sneak through while everyone was on holiday, she was to be disappointed.
Around 200 people showed up at the Gateway on Addlewell Lane for the meeting. Over 20 separate objectors were registered to speak. And every one of them was heard. The chair noting up front that everyone would be heard, provided they did not repeat points. An interesting contrast with the way things are done in Sedgemoor (for which see the latest Leveller Confidential https://levellerconfidential.substack.com/). The meeting was conducted in good order and was surprisingly good tempered. If on occasion residents felt the need to break out into applause, with over three hours of solid planning discussion, who could blame them.
It is important to point out that no one spoke against provision for the homeless per se. It is a matter of record that it is not SSDC policy to use large scale hostels. The existing facility at Pathways in the town centre has proved unsuccessful. Both SSDC and BCHA, the organisation providing for the homeless on Yeovil agree on this. The preferred solution is to provider smaller units and individual “placements”.
It is just that at present, no-one appears to be working on that solution.
After 3 hours and 26 minutes, the Area Committee decided, unanimously, to reject the application. The grounds being, amongst others, that the application breached National Planning Policy Framework 92 b. This says: “are safe and accessible, so that crime and disorder, and the fear of crime, do not undermine the quality of life or community cohesion – for example through the use of attractive, well-designed, clear and legible pedestrian and cycle routes, and high quality public space, which encourage the active and continual use of public areas.“