RESIDENTS fighting a proposed homeless shelter in Chester have submitted a 1,300 signature petition against the plans to council chiefs.
Following a consultation process, campaigners against proposals to build a homeless hub at Richmond Court in Boughton handed over their protest document to Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) leaders at an executive meeting on Wednesday.
Residents from Hoole and Boughton have expressed their concern at plans to relocate homeless services from their former home in the city centre, into a densely populated residential area.
A number of residents attended the meeting at CWaC HQ in Chester, where Richmond Court objector Angela Chidley addressed the council executive before handing over the petition of 786 names, accompanied with 527 online signatures in objection to the plans.
Mrs Chidley said: “The Richmond Court proposals would see the lives of people living within the area change forever.
“We feel that placing up to 42 rough sleepers in the middle of a densely populated residential area would be unsuitable. A development containing administrative offices and facilities for those with specialist needs is not conducive to cohesive living.”
Following the annoucement by CWaC to award the contract for Richmond Court to Foundation Enterprises North West in June last year, campaigners fought successfully for a full, public consultation to be held, which has now been completed.
More than 2,000 comments have been given over the proposals during the consultation period, with CWaC now entering a period of data collation and verification.
Mrs Chidley added: “Given the size of our small, out of the way community, the level of engagement has been phenomenal and has confirmed the strength of feeling over the use of Richmond Court in this way, but it has also highlighted the disregard for democratic process.
“We feel homeless services should be in a city centre location.
“From my own personal experience I know the potentially dangerous situations that can arise with the homeless and rough sleepers, but that leaves me in doubt for potentially denying those who are vulnerable a safe place to live, and isn’t that what all of us want?
“We just want the committee to approach the proposals with an open mind.”
At the meeting Boughton Cllr David Robinson, who has been in support of the campaigners, commented on the end of the consultation process and said he hoped the council would take into account public opinion.
He said: “The decision to take the matter to full public consultation just about saved the reputation of this council.
“There have been 2,000 to 3,000 comments since the consultation and the committee needs to take time to consider and do justice to the comments those people have expressed.”
CWaC spokesman Laura Johnson said: “Now we’ve reached the end of the consultation period we will be placing together a full report, which will take the signatures on the petition and comments made into account.
“It was only received on Wednesday but the petition must first go through a verification process, with names and addresses checked.”