Plans to make a temporary base for homeless people in Dunstable

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Plans to transform a disused care home in Dunstable into temporary accommodation for the homeless have been recommended for approval.

The Housing Services department at Central Bedfordshire Council submitted a planning application to change the use of Franklin House from a former care home (Greenacre) to a shared facility for homeless people.

In the planning report to CBC, it stated that the building would be adapted internally to provide temporary accommodation, with 42 residential one-bedroom units.

It stated: “There have been no external alterations to the building, but internally, shared kitchens are being provided to each of the communal dining rooms and additional bathing and washing facilities are being provided.”

A Beds Police liaison officer did suggest that the change of use may increase the crime risk for the area and questioned what preventative measures have been included.

Westfield Nursery also sent a letter raising concerns about the lack of secure fencing between the nursery grounds and the site, and two neighbours have raised queries about how the site will be managed.

These concerns were addressed in the considerations section of the report, which stated: “The management arrangements comprising support staff on site during the working day and a security guard at night is likely to minimise any negative impact on the community in terms of the change of demographic.

“The changing demographic of the facility may result in an increase in activity and noise at the site, however, it is considered that the management regime at the site (described above) would be responsible for ensuring that noise ... would not be excessive.

“The comments of Westfield Nursery School are noted and it is considered reasonable to impose a condition requiring the erection of fencing along the boundaries of the site with Westfield Nursery School and Beecroft Academy, to be retained thereafter.”

Planning permission for the application has been recommended for approved subject to conditions. Central Beds Council’s development management committee will debate the issue today (Wednesday).

Cllr Terry Colbourne, ward councillor for Northfields, said: “If they are converting it into homes for the homeless then that is a good thing.”

Central Bedfordshire Council agreed the closure of Greenacre Care Home in February 2016.

Around 20 elderly residents were forced to move after the council-run home was judged to be not fit for purpose, with many residents moved to Roseberry

A poor CQC report in May 2015 rated the home as “inadequate” for it leadership, with the less severe score of “requires improvement” for all the remaining fields. By far the worst criticism in the report was aimed at the management of the home, run through Central Bedfordshire Council.

It stated: “We found the manager’s focus was getting the paper work done.

“None of the staff felt they were well supported by the manager. There was a culture of blame and staff felt that they were mainly being told off for what they had not done well and not praised when they did well.”