Campaigners’ anger as hostel fears grow

ON THE MARCH: Residents of the Roker Avenue area protest about plans to turn family homes into supported housing.
ON THE MARCH: Residents of the Roker Avenue area protest about plans to turn family homes into supported housing.
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RESIDENTS have launched a fight against housing plans they say are causing their community to disintegrate.

People living in and around Roker Avenue are protesting against the increasing number of homes being converted into houses of multi-occupancy (HMO).

The latest plan, for 55 Roker Avenue, details it could be turned into supported housing, with householders claiming it will become a hostel.

They claim they have been “duped” after an agreement was put in place with the aim of ensuring developers would have to apply to the council for permission to change a family home into one for several families.

A meeting led by the Roker Eye campaign will be held on Monday night as people launch their battle against the newest proposal.

Diane Riley, who has lived in the area since 1992 and is a member of the group, said: “Feelings are running high as the residents have had enough of the decline in the area caused purely by developers changing its look, feel and make-up.

“This has developed into a battle between the big developers doing what they want regardless of regulations and the small home-owners now fighting to reverse the decline of their neighbourhood and rebuild the community.

“There’s the disruption, the people are transient to the area, so they don’t care or bond with the area.

“There’s a feeling it’s becoming run down because of this and property prices will go down.

“There is also a lot of student accommodation and during the holidays, the properties are empty, and people don’t feel very safe.

“Some people have lived here for 30 or 40 years and the feeling is this is changing the area from somewhere families lived.”

She added it was not a case of residents arguing because it was on their doorstep.

“If it was just one, we could deal with it. We could watch and make sure everything was fine, but we just can’t.

“Young adults have their problems. Here they will be separate from their families and could have other problems, such as issues with drugs or whatever it could be.”

She said residents have been told by Sunderland City Council there are 24 HMOs in the area, but they believe the figure is closer to 60 after a walk around streets.

In the latest application Sheepfold-based Slayco, which was not available for comment, details the house would become a supported housing facility for young adults if the change of use is approved.

It would have eight en suite rooms, with a communal kitchen, utility room and an office and sleepover room for care staff and could be sublet to a charity or housing association.

The Roker Eye meeting will be held tonight at 7pm in the Enon Baptist Church in St Peter’s View, where residents hope to hand over a petition to invited councillors.

The group has also launched the Roker Eye Facebook page and set up so residents can send in their concerns.