“We’re not safe”: Furious locals looking to sell up and move after controversial homeless complex approved

Date published: 26 March 2024

Furious residents have slammed a decision to build a new homeless support complex in Heywood – with some saying they will move out of the area because of it.

Across the way from Harwood Park Primary School, 12 temporary flats will be built to help support those at risk of homelessness. The 12-flat complex was approved alongside another eight-flat building off Tower Street – both of which form part of Rochdale Council’s Strategic Housing Team’s plan to reduce homelessness in the borough. Each site will be managed by homelessness charity Centrepoint when completed.

The decision has been received with anger amongst those living nearby, however. People living around Hornby Street say this new building, which has zero parking provision, will interfere with their everyday lives and will exacerbate parking and congestion issues, particularly around school pick-up time.

Paul Maddock, 66, who has lived off the back of the site on Stanley Street for years, slammed the plans.

“It’s ridiculous. You’ve got 18-25 year olds with problems moving in. Police had their reservations highlighted in their report, plus there are enough empty buildings in this town for that sort of thing.

“It’s one of the only bits of green land left and kids play football there regularly. There is wasteland everywhere for things like this.

“One of the councillors at the meeting said it will enhance the area, I think it’ll make it worse. At picking up time here it is a nightmare, this will only add to the problem. All these streets are full now. You only need half a dozen people parking there to fill it up and cause trouble.

“I think crime will go up as well. I’ve had my car opened up a few times, there is a crime issue already, I see drug dealers when I’m walking the dog.

“There was something similar to this in Hartfield Street that had all these problems. I’m worried it is going to be a repeat. It’s worse for those that back into the green space, they’re going to have a two story building and the light is blocked.”

Louise Mayes, also a Stanley Street resident whose house backs onto the site where the complex will be built, believes her personal safety will be compromised. The 66-year-old explained that whoever moves into the temporary accommodation would have access to her back gate.

Currently the alleyway that runs along the back of Louise and her neighbours’ houses is locked off by a fence – but residents fear it will be shared by their incoming neighbours. She claimed the consultation was just a formality that was ignored before the plans were passed through.

Louise said: “It’s far too close to us. They’re going to share our alleyway, and we’re not safe as they can access the back of our homes.


Louise Mayes, whose home on Stanley Street backs onto the site of the supported living complex off Hornby Street, Heywood
Louise Mayes, whose home on Stanley Street backs onto the site of the supported living complex off Hornby Street, Heywood © LDRS


“It will be built 3ft from the back of our houses which will block sunlight. To be frank, I think it was a done deal and we were ignored. They were laughing at us at the planning meeting.

“This row of terraces has suffered from subsidence in the past. Work has been done to sort it but I’m worrying my house could be damaged by the new work starting.

“They didn’t do the speed bumps in previous years because of the previous subsidence (ground beneath the buildings sinking). I’m frightened it would become unstable as it did in the past. That’s not been taken into consideration.

“They are taking away our alleyway. They think we’re lower working class and we should be used to it. I appreciate the idea of reducing homelessness but it’s about location, and it’s not the right place for it.”

A GMP crime report shared concerns about possible increased crime as a result of more residents at the complexes coming into the area.

And resident Shivaun Smalley, who lives on King Street, said: “A lot of people were concerned about the crime report from GMP which freaked people out. It might come and not cause all that.

“If it’s near where you live, people take points raised and things can get out of hand. The consultation could’ve been better, but it was always going to get through as a council plan so there was no point objecting really.

“People get angry, worried about house prices, it’s the unknown. I’m hoping that everything will be alright, but if it does what you fear, what then? Will they act or do we just have to live with it?”

Councillor Danny Meredith, portfolio holder for regeneration and housing at the council, has said previously there would be checks completed before people enter the accommodation, adding the site is mainly targeted at preventing youth homelessness.


Alleyway that would be shared between Stanley Street row of terraces and the new supported living complex off Hornby Street in Heywood
Alleyway that would be shared between Stanley Street row of terraces and the new supported living complex off Hornby Street in Heywood © LDRS


The councillor said the land is one of the last available options that the council has – which is why other locations objectors are suggesting are off the table. Councillor Meredith told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that the council’s priority is to make sure it is used for the benefit of the community and its young people – rather than other means such as being sold off to developers.

But Harrison Farrell, 31, said he was planning to move as a result of the plans being approved.

The Stanley Street resident said: “What scares me the most is how can you look at that and say ‘that’s where it needs to be’. I’ve lost faith in the council.

“Council will say they’re being harsh on vulnerable residents coming in, I’m all for that, but you have to consider where you put it. It was like the council was marking its own homework.

“It seemed to be done and dusted before they even went to the planning committee. It’s so strikingly close to the houses on the back and the school.

“I think it’s so scary, I think I’m going to be moving in the next six months, I’ll put my house up for sale. It’s mainly for young families here and this has given it a death sentence.”

Another Stanley Street resident, who didn’t want to be named, declared that she and her partner are planning to move as a result of this development. She claimed that this latest change will reduce house prices, despite what council officers say.

She also added that the complex was not deemed adequate for permanent residents, which made her question its suitability for anyone at all – even on a temporary basis.

At the planning committee meeting on 4 March where the complexes were approved, Hannah Courtney-Adamson, strategic lead for the housing team at Rochdale Council, explained that the sites are aimed at 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.

Rochdale Council have been approached for comment, but explained they have already addressed these issues before, both in previous stories and at the planning committee.

George Lythgoe, Local Democracy Reporter

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