CONTROVERSIAL plans to house “vulnerable youngsters” in a former library have been approved despite almost 300 objections from those living near the site.
Councillors deferred an application from Action Housing to convert the former Rawmarsh Library site at Parkgate at a meeting in November.
But members of the Rotherham Borough Council’s planning board were told at a meeting yesterday (7) the social landlord held an additional consultation event last month and grated planning permission for the scheme.
The plan will see the former library and council offices, on Rawmarsh Hill, converted and a separate building erected, creating a 27-flat complex.
The meeting heard the council had received 47 letters and a petition with 250 signatures objecting the scheme, which will house up to 39 16 to 24-year-olds.
Theresa Utlley, who objected the application, told the meeting: “I have lived in Parkgate for 49 years and it’s a super little place but it’s gone down the pan. We are drug infested.
“The people who live around the site are about 80 to 90-years-old and are frightened about what’s going to happen and I don’t think anyone has given us any reassurance at all.”
Linda Leach, who lives near the site, started the petition and said the location was not appropriate in terms of helping the youngsters..
She said: “There are three pubs and three shops within yards of the site and there are also well-known drug dealers in the area.
“It’s going to be very difficult for these people to be able to walk out onto Rawmarsh Hill and abstain from the temptation that’s in front of them.
“I don’t think this is going to help the young people at all.”
Mrs Leach told councillors that people living behind the site on Morley Street were mainly elderly and had fears about the development.
She said: “I, myself, find it very intimidating and will walk out of my way to avoid a group of teenagers especially if they have got booze in their hand.
“The people in the bungalows have worked all of their lives and now want to be able to retire in peace and quiet and all we ask is for this peace and quiet, which is what you would wish for in your retirement.”
David Palmer, on behalf of the applicant Action Housing, told the meeting that as part of a tenancy agreement, those living at the facility will be required to abstain from alcohol and drugs or risk losing their place at the home.
He said: “It won’t be 39 youngsters housed straight away. It will only be six at first and during that first period we need to work with the local community and the young people.
“The whole site will not be done until April 2017 which will give us time to work with the local people.”