Roadside protest as Sunderland residents take to the streets in opposition to YMCA hostel plans

More than 100 residents staged a roadside protest as they demand plans to turn a former GP surgery into a hostel are scrapped.

The No Way To the YMCA Action Group held a demonstration this morning in Silksworth Terrace as householders from the area continued to call for the charity to axe its project to turn the former Church View Medical Centre into an eight-bed accommodation centre for young people.

A roadside demonstration was held, with bunting and banners put on show.

A roadside demonstration was held, with bunting and banners put on show.

Planning permission has been granted purpose-built space for 16 to 21-year-olds leaving the care system, but a local councillor says its House of Multi-Occupancy (HMO) permission is still to be considered.

Read more: Anger as plans for new YMCA in Sunderland are approved despite thousands of objections

Organisers say around 150 people were involved in this morning's action, with further demonstrations planned in weeks to come.

George Callaghan, who is helping to lead the campaign, said: "We have had a peaceful protest this morning and we want to emphasise that we are not going to give up.

Silksworth residents outside the property in Silksworth Terrace.

Silksworth residents outside the property in Silksworth Terrace.

"The response we have had has been positive and people will recall we had 4,500 people sign our petition, plus thousands of people supporting us in our call.

"People are up in arms that we have not been listened to.

"Our main concern is that we feel for the young people coming in, we are a peaceful community, however they have put up gates to segregate, they've put a barrier up around the building and how are they going to integrate?

"How are we going to support young people when they live here.

"I just feel strongly that they are going to be isolated.

"We've got 11,000 patients at our doctors, we've got more housing coming in and it's vital we have facilities such as schools, it's ludicrous."

Ann Swain, who lives opposite the site, added: "When this went out the residents, the action group went to YMCA sites in Toward Road, Chester-le-Street, Fence Houses and went door knocking to speak to residents.

"They told us there was going to be trouble, they told us we're going to have burglaries and we're going to have drug dealing and people drinking and they'll be bringing their friends and they'll be sat outside and at all hours of the night.

"We have got everything we wanted for our old age and the residents made our objections clear.

"We don't want them."

She added some people had told her they had moved because of issues with other YMCA facilities.

Related: Residents ‘ignored’ over new YMCA hostel plan for Sunderland, say angry councillors

Councillor Phil Tye, a Labour member for the Silksworth ward, said: "They obviously feel they have been wrongly done by and they are making it clear they are going to continue their protests, because they have started to renovate the property and they are just not happy.

"We as a council are going to continue to support the residents."

He added its HMO licence is still to be considered.

The YMCA has been contacted for comment.

Speaking after the planning meeting where the scheme was approved, chief executive of YMCA Wearside, Kath Hope, said: “We’re pleased that our plans have been approved by the council and that this vital missing support service for young people will finally be made available to them.

“While there has been opposition from some members of the local community, ultimately the YMCA site in Silksworth is there to help young people rebuild their lives.

“In time, we hope people will see the difference this home has made and the positive impact it will have on the local community.”