Police oppose plans for hostel in Edgbaston
A bid by Birmingham’s Calthorpe Estates to site a hostel for young men with criminal records, alcoholism and drug problems in upmarket Edgbaston received a blow when police said they opposed the plan.
The company, which owns and runs large parts of the leafy suburb, is already facing opposition from local residents to convert a five bedroomed Georgian house into a rehabilitation centre for troubled youths aged up to 25 years old.
An independent preparatory school opposite and retirement home next door are also objecting to the planning application for the centre which will be run by charity the Depaul Trust.
West Midlands Police last night said: "We can confirm we have placed an objection to the planning application."
But the force refused to give further detail on what grounds it was objecting to the plans.
The centre in Edgbaston will rehabilitate up to five young people who are repeat criminal offenders and have a record of violence, vandalism, drink and drug dependency, bullying, homelessness and social exclusion. They will be put under limited supervision as part of the charity’s drive to reintegrate them back into the community.
But Deirdre Alden, Conservative Councillor for Edgbaston, said: "It’s clear there is overwhelming opposition to this application. A large number of residents, the councillors, the management and residents of the elderly persons’ development next door, and now the police, are all saying the location is totally inappropriate.
"This is particularly so since the Depaul Trust’s plan is that the young people, some of whom will be ex-offenders, will be left unsupervised for much of the time.
"I hope, in the face of such opposition from their own residents, Calthorpe Estates will have a rethink, and will seriously try to sell or let the property as a single family dwelling."
Calthorpe said the unit is within easy walking distance of the Broad Street entertainment zone and youths at the centre would not necessarily walk through residential areas.
Jayne Herritty, sales and marketing director for Calthorpe Estates, said: "The Depaul Trust is a highly regarded charitable organisation who offer mentoring and support to disadvantaged 16 to 25-year-olds.
"Calthorpe Estates firmly believe that communities thrive best where all groups feel included and we support social inclusion.
"This is a residential use of the property at which just five individuals will be living under supervision. These individuals want to use 7 Church Road as their home and this is their opportunity to create a better life for themselves."
The Depaul Trust, based in Erdington was founded by Cardinal Basil Hume and boasts ITV news presenter Sir Trevor McDonald OBE as president.
The trust states its mission is to "offer homeless and disadvantaged people the opportunity to fulfil their potential and move towards an independent and positive future" so they can become part of the community.
Peter Hannah-Smith, regional manager for the Depaul Trust, said he was "disappointed" by the West Midlands Police’s stance and claimed the objections were made by one individual that had no knowledge of the charity’s work.
"If he had consulted with our local police contacts in Erdington he would understand how closely we work with our local police and community to support the effective management of crime reduction.
"I have asked for those local officers to provide their comments on the planning application and their experiences with the Trust."
He added: "Every resident in the trust’s care has to enter into a licence agreement and sign up to a rigorous set of house rules, including the prevention of any residents congregating on the grounds of the property or in the local area.
"Whilst the Trust is very sensitive to the needs of all its residents it will simply not tolerate unacceptable behaviour and it has been made crystal clear that these rules will be policed and enforced quickly and firmly at 7 Church Road."
He maintained youngsters put in the unit will have reached "certain milestones" of acceptable behaviour.