Thetford hostel plan causes concern

A scheme to expand and adapt a homeless hostel for people in Thetford has caused concern after rumours began to spread about its potential occupants.

A scheme to expand and adapt a homeless hostel for people in Thetford has caused concern after rumours began to spread about its potential occupants.

Several people, who did not want to be named, voiced worries that it would be solely used to house sex offenders, but today, officials moved to reassure people that it would continue to house the homeless.

The plans for John Room House, in London Road, include 10 single bedsits and a new section with 12 self-contained 'move on' flats. In total 22 people will be housed here and it is due to re-open in March nest year.

Today, Terry Jermy, Thetford town councillor for the Saxon Ward, said that although it could not be guaranteed that users of the building would not include sex-offenders, he was not concerned about the re-development.

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He said: “It would be wrong to say that no sex offenders would be going in there because it's impossible to assume who is homeless, and from that point of view I understand the concerns of the local community.

“However, I believe it is necessary to put this issue into context. As I understand it, since John Room House opened in 1997, there have been no issues at all within the local community relating to the building or people living there.

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“We must provide facilities for the homeless as absolutely anyone could be made homeless, particularly in the current economic climate, but as long as those people are properly supported I cannot see any problems arising.

“People's concern would appear to be that secretly the building has been changed to purely house those with a criminal conviction, this is not the case as I understand it.”

The hostel will see a second two storey block containing 12 single person bedrooms built on the site.

The existing building will also be adapted from having 10 multi-occupancy beds to 10 self contained rooms each with a shower, toilet, kitchenette and sleeping area.

It will also house other communal facilities, a reception interview room, and warden's room.

A spokeswoman for Breckland Council, said: “The hostel, when it reopens in March 2010, will provide accommodation for single, vulnerable homeless adults.

“The future occupants will be people from within the community who have found themselves homeless and may have a range of issues which they will need support to address. These could be ex-servicemen, people with mental health problems or someone leaving prison.

“This accommodation provides the support and assistance they need rather than placing them unsupported into the community.”

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