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

Silksworth residents have been “ignored” over plans for a new YMCA hostel, councillors have claimed.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 05 March, 2019, 16:14

A‘change of use’ bid for the ex-Church View Medical Centre was this week given the go-ahead by councillors with a majority vote.

Proposals include an eight-bed facility for young people aged between 16-21 with an aim of supporting care leavers into the community.

Since the proposals were announced, the ‘No Way To The YMCA’ group have held several protest marches over anti-social behaviour fears.

The campaign also saw more than 4,300 people sign a petition and 244 objection letters submitted to the council.

Silksworth ward councillors have since criticised the decision by Sunderland City Council’s area Development Control Sub-Committee.

Coun Peter Gibson said: “I was very upset with the result of the vote that was taken, they seem to have ignored the people who signed that petition.

“We have to take note of what the people say, it’s why we were elected.”

Church View Medical Centre closed in 2017 with the previous owner “gifting” the building to the YMCA with an aim of supporting Sunderland’s young people, a council report states.

Care bosses stressed young people in the centre would benefit from 24-hour supervision and support from a rota of housing workers and care staff.

Coun Phil Tye, who is chairman of the Silksworth Residents’ Association, added it was “not the end of the road” for the campaign.

“I’m dismayed that the committee didn’t support the view of residents when half of the (Silksworth) electorate said they didn’t want it,” he said.

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“I would urge them not to give up hope, I hope they realise I’m as devastated as they are, I didn’t see that coming as a result.”

Before opening, applicants also need to apply for a seperate house in multiple occupation (HMO) licence covering security, management and plans to prevent anti-social behaviour.

Coun Tye added: “There are still a couple of steps and we certainly will be making representations to try and stop the HMO which is the next step in the process.”

Chief Executive of YMCA Wearside, Kath Hope, speaking after the meeting, welcomed the decision by councillors.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

Caption: ‘No Way to the YMCA’ protesters outside Sunderland Civic Centre, March 4, 2019

Caption: Former Church View Medical Centre in Silksworth Picture: Google

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service