London Housing Association L&Q plans to use Avalon House, 114-116 Manor Avenue, as a “hostel for single homeless people without support needs and many of whom are currently in expensive temporary accommodation or at risk from homelessness.”
L&Q has been told that it needs to apply for planning permission for a change of use and has written to nearby residents (including Brockley Central) to inform them of their plans. It claims that this use would "support Lewisham Council's housing strategy."
An organisation called Friends of Manor Avenue opposes the plans on two main grounds:
- They believe that Brockley already bears more than its fair share of accommodation for at-risk communities, including “more than twelve hostels… within a short walk”
- They believe that the former residents were relocated against their will. This is something that L&Q denies (saying that they were "actively involved in decommissioning") and which Cllr Vicky Foxcroft says she has no knowledge of but has agreed to investigate. They believe that the purpose to which the property has been put in recent years should not be changed
We have been contacted by a number of residents concerned by the plans, who have asked us to highlight the issue.
In Brockley Central’s view, every community needs to do its bit to accommodate such facilities. They can be problematic for other local residents (a house very near us is used for similar purposes, which is mostly absolutely fine, but did once lead to our neighbour having to call the police after one resident who failed to take his medication harassed her outside her house) and occupy properties that might otherwise be used for social housing, but the same thing is true wherever they are located.
However, if it is the case that Brockley already has a greater concentration of such facilities than other parts of the borough, then we believe the planning application should be refused and the house used to accommodate other families in need. If the Council's housing strategy is to locate a high concentration of such facilities in Brockley then it is a bad strategy.
This is the key question. It’s one that Cllr Vicky Foxcroft agrees needs to be answered and has asked the Council to address. She has also asked for a community consultation meeting to be held in September, where these issues can be discussed with local residents.
This seems a sensible and proportionate response, which will hopefully allow the matter to be decided on the basis of facts, rather than speculation or spin.
We look forward to reporting the issue in more detail in due course.