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Church objects to homeless centre; Anti-social behaviour fear leads to move.

Byline: Tony Henderson

ACHURCH is opposing plans for a centre for homeless young people.

The True Jesus Church in Dundas Street, Sunderland, has objected to the scheme for a three-storey building to provide homeless young people aged 16-21 with 18 short-stay en-suite bedroom accommodation and support and educational facilities.

The plans for the site has been submitted by Centrepoint Soho Limited, a national charity which has been providing accommodation and support for homeless young people across the country for 40 years.

Local objectors claim the area is "saturated" with similar support organisations. The True Jesus Church says it has suffered theft of lead from roofing, damage to members' cars, human defecation on main gates, physical and verbal abuse of church members and fear among elderly members.

There are also concerns that the provision of the Centrepoint facility may increase levels of anti-social behaviour in relation to the church.

Seventeen letters of objection have also been received in from local residents, who claim that the operations of similar organisations in area have led to significant anti-social behaviour.

They say the area already has a hostel, children's home, and a chemist distributing methadone within 150 metres of application site.

Some objectors claim the area is a "dumping ground" for problem youths and adults, to the detriment of the community and safety of residents and that the Centrepoint facility will only bring more problems into neighbourhood.

Two further letters of objection have come from the adjacent Monkwearmouth Health Centre and St Bede's Health Centre.

Sunderland city councillors will decide on the bid today.

Planners say the proposed development will help the council provide a much-need facility and are recommending approval.

A Centrepoint spokesman said: "It is important to acknowledge there is still a great need for support services for homeless young people in Sunderland and though there are support services in Monkwearmouth there is not one for homeless young people.

"There is already significant anti-social behaviour in Monkwearmouth emanating from the various support services. "To tackle anti-social behaviour from Centrepoint young people, we have put a number of control measures in place. These are, young people have to sign a licence agreement - which means adhering to house rules relating to behaviour inside the service - and a police and local authority 'acceptable behaviour agreement' regarding their behaviour outside the building.

"If a young person receives three strikes against their ABA, they have to leave the service.

"We also have CCTV cameras placed at various strategic points, both inside and outside of the building, so staff can monitor and respond to Centrepoint young people's behaviour."

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OBJECTION The True Jesus Church in Dundas Street, Sunderland
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 2, 2010
Words:441
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