RESIDENTS have raised concerns about plans to build a 23-bedroom facility for the homeless in their community.

One homeowner in Kings Furlong said they were fearful the halfway house, if approved, would be a 'sweet shop' for drug dealers. 

The proposals - put forward by homeless organisation Two Saints and supported by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Hampshire County Council - would see 180 Culver Road knocked down and replaced with a new accommodation block.

A full planning application is expected to be submitted this month, with public consultation promised.

However, residents of Culver Road are worried about the planned location, citing concerns about drugs and violence in a family housing area.

One resident, aged 66, told the Gazette: “I am dead against them building up there. We have children here and everything.”

She said she has “full sympathy for the homeless” but is worried about “disrespectful” behaviour involving “drugs and violence.”

She thinks that lots of others in the area feel the same, and has signed a petition which is being circulated in the community and is available at Jaybee’s Convenience Store (Best One) at the Kings Furlong Centre.

The petition, seen by the Gazette reads: “We, the undersigned, object to the proposed new building and change of use of 180 Culver Road to a half-way house for 23 homeless people.

“We want to make it clear that we are not against housing the homeless at all, but strongly believe that the new building and its proposed use are not compatible with the area in which it is being proposed, i.e. the middle of a residential estate where there are many young children and elderly people.”

Loss of natural light and road visibility as a result of the building’s size, inadequate parking, and noise pollution were cited within the petition, alongside the fact that residents have been advised that some of the proposed inhabitants engage in drug use, necessitating staff patrols to clear up “discarded needles and any other drug taking paraphernalia.”

One woman said: “I am glad people are coming together and talking about it.

“It is such a nice area this. The kids have to go past there to get to the park.”

She described the proposed designs as a “monstrosity”, adding: “I’d help anyone, but not something of that scale here.”

She suggested that the site could be used for a better purpose, for example an activity centre of some kind for children and teenagers.

This was echoed by another resident, Ms O’Shea. She said she’s “not comfortable” with the plans for the homeless accommodation, but that she understands people need to be housed somewhere, and that the building should be used for something.

“It’s got to be used, but it could be used by something else,” she said.

“This is the last thing anyone would want it to be used for, but they have to go somewhere.”

Terry Dwyer, 58 is also worried about the presence of drugs, and safety of young people.

He said: “We are totally against it. I do feel for people who are homeless and have drug issues, but I have a 15-year-old daughter.”

Terry described how his daughter and wife both walk through the Top of Town each day on their way to work and school, and have seen behaviour that he is concerned would be replicated in their area should the plans go ahead.

“They see what goes on, and I don’t want that on my doorstep.”

Terry says he has had “run-ins” with people in the local area who have dealt drugs in the past, and worries this accommodation would be “like a sweetshop for them”.

He added: “It is a family neighbourhood and a quiet neighbourhood. Not many people move from here because it’s really close-knit, people help each other.

“You only have to look at the top of town and the issues they have there. I can’t stress enough that I feel for them, I really do, but I think everyone would say the same if it were on their doorstep.”

Talking about alternative options, he added: “Basingstoke is big enough to build a purpose-built place, not right in the middle of a housing estate. At empty offices, which there is going to be even more of because of coronavirus. Built out of the way from where people are living.

“Would the councillors and others involved like it on their doorstep?”

Derek Masterson, 92, said he wasn’t aware of the plans but has “nothing against” people being housed there, although “it depends on what type of people they are going to be.”

He added: “This is a good estate. We have no problems with children or anything. I have lived here since it was built in 1966, so I’m not just talking off the cuff.

“It doesn’t concern me at all as long as the people are quite honourable. They would be welcome, if they are decent people, but no villains!”