Fears for Southside as Sally Army centre set to go ahead

A CONTROVERSIAL new drop-in centre for the homeless is set to get the go-ahead after council officials said it would benefit the local economy.

Planners say the scheme – to convert a vacant shop on Clerk Street into a Salvation Army centre – will help improve the "vitality" of the Southside.

Dozens of local residents had protested against the move and argued it would turn the street into a focus for "undesirables".

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They had also argued the site, which would replace the organisation's facility on Bread Street, would be unsuitable for people with addiction problems as it was near an off-licence and a casino.

The objections were dismissed by city council planning officials, who said the concerns were mere "presumptions" and have recommended the scheme is approved.

In a report to councillors, the city's head of planning and strategy, Alan Henderson, said:

"This proposal will result in the reopening of a currently vacant unit which will benefit the economic viability and vitality of the area.

"Clerk Street is a busy commercial street with a wide variety of uses, so the drop-in centre will not be out of character.

"The concern that clients of this centre will cause increased antisocial behaviour or create a more dangerous environment is a presumption. The control of antisocial behaviour will be handled through effective management of the centre or, if necessary, by the police."

The Salvation Army has stressed that the centre is vital to its work and would not cause problems as it is a "dry" facility that would not allow alcohol.

It has submitted a petition of support to the council for the new centre. However, 45 residents and businesses have objected to the scheme, and a petition against the centre has 35 signatures.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Local resident Don Jardine, who lives on St Leonard's Street, said the centre would simply encourage more homeless people to loiter in the Southside.

He added: "There are a lot of local people who don't want it here and it looks like the council aren't listening to them at all.

"The Salvation Army does good work but this is not a suitable site for them. It will have a negative impact on local businesses."

Neighbour Jo Barker said she was "appalled" that officials had recommended approving the new centre.

She added: "I can't believe they think it will revitalise this area. There's no way that will happen and it's appalling that they have recommended approving it."

The proposals have also been criticised by the Slot Casino on Clerk Street, which said it would be forced to move from the area if the centre was approved.

The plans are expected to get the go-ahead at a council planning committee meeting next week.