Council shuts gate on homeless youth shelter at Dinmore
THE charity behind a rehabilitation centre for homeless youth proposed for suburban Dinmore will push ahead with plans, despite objections from residents and Ipswich City Council.
The council has refused the development application for 7 Queen St, Dinmore, saying the proposed youth home and rehabilitation premises would "result in unacceptable impacts" on the residential area and the local road network.
Objections were received from 24 nearby residents, who voiced concerns the facility would be used for drug rehabilitation.
The residents were concerned about the safety of children in the neighbourhood, impacts on the character of the suburb, privacy, security and limited parking for the facility as the street is already congested with commuters parking close to Dinmore train station.
The council's decision has shocked the developers, The Gate 1 Chance Charity, who will appeal the decision in the Planning and Environment Court.
Founder Mary Hurst said the group had widespread support to establish the facility and since being established in 2012, had raised more than $100,000 to assist homeless people in Ipswich, providing food parcels, clothing and vouchers for those in need.
She denied suggestions the Dinmore facility would be used to rehabilitate people with drug addictions, saying it was a residential home for vulnerable youth aged 17-25 needing emergency accommodation.
"We're fighting (the decision) now, we're appealing it," she said.
"It is just a house. It is a home for people to live in that are homeless. But for some reason these people have got up in arms about it. They don't realise how it is going to be better for our community to have these people in a home than it is living on the street.
"I work every day with these people that I see on the street. I've been out at 3am with people phoning me saying they have no food and they are hungry, they have nowhere to live.
"I'm still here, so what is the unsafe part of it - I don't know.
"It is not a drug rehab and they are not criminals."
Local councillor Bruce Casos said Ms Hurst had told him the facility was for rehabilitation of people with drug offences.
"She has told me it is to help people who have been suffering from drug addiction. She has told me that she was hoping to get people referred from the courts to her facility," Cr Casos said.
"The lady is ruled by her heart and she really wants to help some of the more unfortunate people in society but my personal opinion is that it is not the right location for that sort of facility.
"I think there is a need for these sorts of facilities but they have to be in appropriate locations."
The application details a new four bedroom residential facility with a staff member residing on site as a caretaker/supervisor at night and during the day.
If Gate 1 Chance's application for a zoning change for an "institutional residential" (youth home and rehabilitation premises) was approved, the site could be used as a drug rehab centre.
Expecting mum Ellena Corbally said she moved to Queen St because it was a quiet residential area suitable for raising her young family and she feared for their safety with the facility nearby.
Ms Corbally said Ms Hurst had told the Riverview Neighbourhood Watch Group the facility was "for criminals and getting people out of the justice system, possibly three men at a time aged 17-35".
"She was going to rehabilitate them off drugs," she said.
Nearby resident Jeff Walker said he had lived at his Albert St home for 42 years and did not want a zoning change allowing a rehabilitation institution in the area.
"Once it is handed over to the criminal justice authorities, they will determine who goes in there, not Mary Hurst, and we will not be in a position to find out who is going in there or what their criminal records were, what their offences were," he said.
"There are a lot of people around here with young children. My grandkids stay with us.
"We bought here as residents and we've raised our family here. Most of our neighbours are in the same boat and it is a change of use that we are not prepared to cop."