Carisbrooke residents, worried about the effect a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) may have on their street, are strongly objecting to a property’s change of use, with one even saying she did not want to ‘needle pick’ her garden before she let her children out to play.
Plans have been submitted to the Isle of Wight Council to change the current Castle Lodge guest house, on Castle Road, into a HMO by Two Saints, a homeless not-for-profit service.
The 11-bed HMO would be provided in partnership with the council to help reduce rough sleeping and prevent homelessness.
According to a Freedom of Information request by the Guardian newspaper, between April and November last year, the first peak of the pandemic, 996 households approached the IW Council about homelessness — 187 of them already homeless or rough sleeping.
Two Saints said in planning documents, individuals who use the HMO will not be placed directly from the street but will have gone through an initial process to determine they are ready to live ‘independently and successfully’ and not ‘negatively impact’ the local community. Each tenant will stay between three and 12 months on average, while long-term housing solutions are identified.
However, Castle Road residents are concerned that having a HMO on the ‘quiet’ street will bring disturbances, ‘could lead to crime’ and they would ‘fear for the safety of their children,’ saying the road is not appropriate for that type of housing and it would be ‘irresponsible’ to put it there due to the demographic of the street.
One objector was concerned that the sale of their house, which is next to Castle Lodge, would fall through, with others concerned about property prices. Another was cautious that their attitude ‘sounded snobby’ but said: “I am very aware of the less desirable people that frequent Newport and I don’t want them living and visiting opposite my house.”
A number of residents complained that no planning notice had been displayed. An IW Council spokesman said there had been a temporary change in the law due to the pandemic and the decision was taken in March last year to instead write to the properties that shared a boundary with the site, as well as taking other measures to make people aware of the application.
Almost 30 objections have been submitted, but only one Castle Street resident has supported the application so far. He said there was “a danger hateful and inaccurate comments fuelled by a misunderstanding towards homeless people could stop this much-needed facility” and that the homeless are not a criminal class but people who come from all sections of society.
Hampshire Constabulary’s crime and disorder officer said the police broadly support the HMO but it is conditional on the tenants ‘being at the appropriate stage of recovery to reside there’.
Two Saints has said any type of anti-social behaviour or nuisance in or outside of the property will not be tolerated, with a member of staff present six days a week and CCTV installed.