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Plans to reopen Sunderland hostel which ‘made neighbours’ lives pure hell’

Coun. Barbara McClennan outside Oakwood House, Mowbray Road, Sunderland,  where plans to open as a youth hostel have angered local residents.

Coun. Barbara McClennan outside Oakwood House, Mowbray Road, Sunderland, where plans to open as a youth hostel have angered local residents.

Reopening a controversial hostel in Sunderland would mean fresh misery for people living nearby, a councillor claims.

Oakwood House in Hendon came under fire when it was run by charity Centrepoint.

The shelter in Mowbray Road attracted 200 objections when it first opened in 2008, before moving to a £1million base in Dundas Street, Monkwearmouth, in 2012.

Residents complained young people living there had no respect for property, drank alcohol in the street, swore and abused people – resulting in 186 police calls in just one month.

Now a bid has been made to reopen the building, which has also been used as a nursing home and student accommodation.

Forever Care has submitted proposals to Sunderland City Council to open a 15-bed House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO), with an extension housing eight young people aged 12 to 17.

The application states: “The HMO tenants will be people from a range of different backgrounds, including people who have suffered a relationship break down, people in work, unemployed and retired.

“The applicant does not intend to accept tenants with a criminal record or offending behaviour that has included serious violent crime, have a current issue with an addiction, any sexual offence and arson.”

The proposal also promises facilities will be staffed round the clock and drugs and alcohol will be banned.

But ward councillor Barbara McClennan is not convinced.

She said: “When this building was used by Centrepoint the occupants made the lives of many local people pure hell.

“Crime increased, people’s property was damaged and they frequently reported incidents of drug use, drunkenness, verbal abuse and even sex in alleyways – problems generated by the people living in Oakwood House.

“This was despite Centrepoint producing a management plan setting out how the place would be run and what residents could do if they had problems.

“We need to ensure that kind of thing does not happen again.

“A significant amount of money has been spent on refurbishing the building to a high standard, which is to the credit of its new owners.

“Sadly, this investment was made before planning permission was secured – that was a business risk they have chosen to make.

“We need to ensure the problems of the past do not recur in the future and I am certainly concerned, amongst other things, that their application makes no reference to a management plan of any kind.”

The application will go before the council’s planning committee next month.

 

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