Bideford project to aid in drug addiction recovery obtained permission to expand over objections
A charity that provides supported accommodation for adults recovering from alcohol or drug addiction has been granted retrospective approval to convert three apartments into an eight-bedroom house in Bideford.
The Lighthouse project secured a retrospective planning application for a property on Buttgarden Street on the site, which was historically known as JC Grose Surgeon and Physician.
The site is currently being used as a multiple occupancy house (HMO) for eight men as part of the Bideford CIC lighthouse project. The Bideford Lighthouse Project CIC is an independent, non-profit organization that provides supported housing for adult men struggling with drug or alcohol addiction and who want to achieve abstinence and make real life changes.
The project offers residents the opportunity to develop skills and support to regain an independent life without dependency. The project is financed by housing allowance and operates with staff for two days between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., with staff on call outside of these hours.
The site obtained an HMO license in 2016 and is therefore considered an acceptable HMO hosting provision.
Adam Langer, who is the program director, said: “This is a very carefully designed process as there is currently little money for drug treatment in the UK.
“We have developed a model in which we provide supported housing for a helping community. We have full autonomy over who comes into our homes, so when we do assessments, help people who we think are willing to engage and work with us. We have a comprehensive policy of no tolerance for drug and alcohol abuse inside or outside the home.
“I am a graduate psychotherapist; my colleagues have a degree in addiction counseling. We don’t need this for the work we do, but it’s the level of seriousness that goes into our project.
He said the program had the backing of the Bideford Bridge Trust, police and neighbors who said there were no noise or noise issues.
“We are independent, completely free to Torridge, paid by central government from housing allowance money,” he added.
“All of our residents volunteer in the community, creating a family.
“People have their own bedrooms and private spaces, but we want to encourage more interaction. Because we are not rehab, we need them to cook meals for each other, sit together and discuss issues that arise as we grow, learn, and develop.
He said he “screwed up” and didn’t realize that he needed a building permit after getting the HMO license, hence the reason he went. returned to Torridge’s planning committee on Thursday, May 20.
“21 years ago I was addicted to crack and heroin,” he said. “Recovery can work, and I’m passionate about helping others and changing lives. Please support us.
However, Councilor Doug Bushy (Bideford North, independent), who called for a discussion of the decision, had concerns.
“Buttgarden Street is a residential street in the center of the city. There are several properties that are used to house people who have a range of personal issues, and I have sympathy for them. Alcohol and drug addiction being just two.
“There is also a home for young people with a series of problems.
“An apartment building is close to the proposed development, and all of these properties are causing a lot of discomfort to people living in the neighboring properties of Buttgarden Street, Tower Street and Lower Meadon Street.
“Adding another property with eight individual units will only add to the many problems.”
He said that although police had not raised any concerns about the eight-bedroom plan, he found it hard to believe.
“Over the past year or so, police have responded to numerous incidents on Buttgarden Street,” he said.
“I’m not saying it has anything to do with this app, but police frequently visit Buttgarden Street, Church Walk, and the cemetery itself.
“I have repeatedly witnessed drug trafficking in the city that I have reported. In the cemetery, a lot of people are entering the cemetery from Buttgarden Street going down the steps of Tower Street, so it is clear that there is a lot of trouble in the Buttgarden Street area.
He said he didn’t know of any other area in Torridge with such a densely populated area.
“I can’t believe for a moment that they are all hosting locals,” he said. “I think we import a lot of people from outside the Torridge area. If you were to set up ten more HMOs in town, I’m sure you would fill them out as well.
“I think this is one development too many.
“I applaud what the Lighthouse Trust is trying to do to help people, but I think it needs to be spread across the district rather than concentrated in one area.”
Councilor Peter Christie (Bideford North, Green Party) added: “I have received a lot of complaints and emails about what is happening on Buttgarden Street.
“I’m not saying it comes from these places because we don’t know where they came from, although some do.”
He added: “Looking at Charis House across town, all of their customers are from elsewhere,” he said.
“They are deliberately brought out there to get them out of their circle, and you can see why. People ask why we bring problems to Bideford because we never seem to send our problems, and they always hang around and never leave.
“I know you can’t ask the requester where their customers are from, but I suspect they are not local.”
He said he was concerned about the interior design of the HMO, saying it did not provide adequate communal facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms.
However, advisers backed the request.
Councilor Ruth Craigie (East Bideford, Labor) said: “I think it’s a brilliant job that they are doing, and we should be encouraging people like that who are making an effort to help us.
“The state is clearly not providing enough help to people, and that is why we have a lot of people in the city who are drinking and using drugs because they are not getting any help.
“We depend on charities like this that do a great job, and I fully support them.
“My son lives on Buttgarden Street but has no objections and has had no problem with anyone from HMOs. “
Councilor Chris Leather (Northam, Independent) added, “We are a caring community in Bideford, and that’s why we have this.
“Looking at what has been done, the transformation of these three apartments into eight bedrooms was perfectly done to provide a shared space. “