Two new housing complexes for those at risk of homelessness have been approved for Heywood, following a tense meeting of the planning committee.

The meeting at Number One Riverside saw the approval of eight-flats on the land between Tower Street and Pilsworth Road and 12 temporary flats opposite Harwood Primary School on Hornby Street.

The committee was called "a disgrace" as they decided on both applications put forward by the Strategic Housing Team at Rochdale Council – which will be managed by homelessness charity Centrepoint.

Land between Pilsworth Road and Tower Street, Heywood (Picture: Google Maps)

Land between Pilsworth Road and Tower Street, Heywood (Picture: Google Maps)

Objectors in attendance on March 4 made their feelings over the loss of green open space known.

The decision led to one woman saying: “This is like the worst game show from hell.”

Another from the public gallery shouted: “This is a disgrace.” 

Tower Street resident Cheryl Grant highlighted a number of concerns on behalf of residents.

These concerns include historic flooding issues, a bin store next to her own home; privacy issues caused by overlooking, close proximity to homes, loss of recreational space for dog walkers and children to play and fears over increased crime and drug and alcohol use.

For the Hornby Street application, residents were particularly concerned by how close the new complex would be to the primary school.

Grassland off Hornby Street in Heywood (Picture Google Maps)

Grassland off Hornby Street in Heywood (Picture Google Maps)

Ms Grant told the committee: “It has all felt like no one has really listened to us. We were told we are awful people because we do not care about homeless people, which is unfair (because we do). 

“This is why people are getting so irate because we’ve felt pushed out and told we should be nice and allow this.

"With all the will in the world, there are going to be problems and we have 18-25 year-old’s having issues, so there are going to be issues.”

Tim Hewitt, another objector who spoke against the Hornby Street application, raised similar issues to Ms Grant but focused more on the loss of sunlight and the potential for anti-social behaviour and increased crime in a densely populated area. 

Hannah Courtney-Adamson, strategic lead for the housing team at Rochdale Council, explained that the complexes are catered for 18-25 year-olds who have nowhere else to go.

For care leavers, whom the council has legal responsibility for, these homes are seen as a solution to stop them becoming at risk of homelessness and making sure they can get on the right path in life as they venture out on their own, the meeting heard.

When quizzed by Cllr Peter Winkler, Ms Courtney-Adamson explained that there would be checks completed before people enter the accommodation and they would be monitored 24/7.

Even though she could not rule out young people with prison time entering the complexes, she was clear that no sex offenders would be permitted to these sites.

She added: “Not everyone coming in will be perfect (in terms of behaviour), some will be coming through the care system, some will have had a family breakdown.

"We (Rochdale Council) don’t have this kind of stock of our own. 

“This will give us a chance to offer that support and help us meet our statutory responsibilities. We don’t want to create a revolving door with homelessness.”

Ms Courtney-Adamson went on to say that more homeless accommodation is needed with rising demand across the borough, and they have £3.9m of government funding to deliver 28 new flats to help relieve this pressure in the area.

The meeting also heard that measures had been put in place during construction to address concerns regarding flood risks.

Councillors Peter Winkler, Billy Sheerin and Phil Burke all stated that the objections raised had no real case when it came to planning law.

They explained that any rejection from the committee could easily be overturned by the Planning Inspectorate.