Plan to expand homeless shelter in Bristol suburb sparks concern among neighbours

Councillors will vote next week on whether to grant planning permission
A visual of the proposed scheme for the homeless shelter expansion in Eastville (photo: Agile Property and Homes) A visual of the proposed scheme for the homeless shelter expansion in Eastville (photo: Agile Property and Homes)
A visual of the proposed scheme for the homeless shelter expansion in Eastville (photo: Agile Property and Homes)

A plan to expand a homeless shelter in Eastville has sparked concerns among neighbours about an increase in anti-social behaviour.

Councillors will vote next week on whether to grant planning permission for the homeless shelter’s plans for seven one-bed living pods.

Places for People has operated the shelter on Stonebridge Park for 20 years, and the two-storey building provides support for up to 27 residents. The plans include building seven self-contained living spaces, each 24 square metres with small kitchens and bathrooms.

But 53 people living nearby have written to Bristol City Council to object to the plans, with many concerned about drunken behaviour and drug dealing. Councillors on the development control A committee will decide whether to approve the plans on Wednesday, September 20.

In planning documents, architects said: “The proposed accommodation is designed specifically for people in need of support or moving on from homelessness, rough sleeping or ill health. It’s designed to support their recovery and more rapid transition back into the community.

“The compact living spaces will be occupied only by single people with low to medium support needs, not high or complex needs. The aim will be to provide residents with security of accommodation for up to two years to allow them time to develop independent living skills and re-establish stability in their lives, prior to moving to more permanent housing.”

The pods would be built by Agile Property and Homes, which specialises in using modern methods of construction, and they would then be run by Places for People. Some neighbours said while they accepted the need for homeless support, current issues had been left to fester unaddressed.

A map showing the location of the homeless shelter in EastvilleA map showing the location of the homeless shelter in Eastville
A map showing the location of the homeless shelter in Eastville

One neighbour said: “There are almost weekly incidents involving residents, such as loud noise in the night, loud bad language, drinking and drug-taking in the street across from my home. I just found an empty bottle of vodka there this afternoon and there are nitrous oxide capsules there regularly. Although, the residents have to live somewhere.”

Another added: “I recognise the need for more beds for people with addiction issues and I’m happy to have more beds near me. However, there are existing issues that crop up from time to time, depending on who is living at the hostel and who is visiting this area in connection with them.

“I have witnessed numerous occasions of people dealing either outside my house or heading down to the local playing field or cycle path, where I have also witnessed dealing for residents. I object if the hostel is not going to have a guaranteed increase in staffing, and a greater control of what residents are permitted to do when they leave the hostel.”

Other concerns include the impact on traffic and the local roads. Green Councillor Lorraine Francis, representing Eastville, called in the application for further scrutiny, which means that the decision on granting permission will be taken by a committee of councillors, rather than council planning officers.

Cllr Francis said: “Ridgeway Road, which is the proposed road for egress to and from the property, is a busy and overwhelmed road where residents regularly complain about speeding cars, especially coming off the bend before the T junction of Stonebridge Park, as well as HGVs who use the roads to access yards in Hillfields. This development would increase the risk of accidents and pressure on the residents during construction, while after construction cars leaving the site would struggle to be safe.”