YMCA abandons hostel plans for former Two Bears Hotel in Cobholm

A HOMELESSNESS charity has abandoned plans to redevelop a landmark Great Yarmouth hotel - and is focusing instead on a different scheme just a stone’s throw away.

The YMCA had hoped to convert the Two Bears Hotel, in Pasteur Road, into a 20-unit complex for 18-24 year olds but said this week a decision was taken at board level to withdraw from the project amid concerns about the long-term costs.

Now the organisation has hopped across the river and wants to take over two floors of the former telephone exchange in Hall Quay, providing community housing for 21 young people who have fallen on hard times and need help to progress.

Area director for YMCA Great Yarmouth, Cheryl Bosworth, said it meant the charity would be unable to provide the self-contained units that had been earmarked for the Two Bears Hotel scheme.

However, the new scheme would create a community housing facility where homeless young people could live in a supported environment which was more like a home than a hostel.

The aim would be to give the young people the skills and confidence to live independently, doing their own cooking and cleaning and re-connecting with opportunities.There would also be space for an office base, located in the centre of town close to amenities and transport links.

A planning application submitted to Great Yarmouth Borough Council is seeking temporary permission for six years.

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Meanwhile, the charity is poised to open its first move-on scheme at Seacroft in Wellesley Road, helping 12 young people who will benefit from the presence of a live-in warden.

Ms Bosworth said: “There is a need for this sort of accommodation providing supported lodgings for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. It may be they have volatile relationships with their families or have underlying abuse issues.”

She added: “They are people who are over the age of 18 and they will be engaged in employment, college or voluntary work.

“They will have access to their own washing machine and kitchen. It is not a hostel and has an element of support.

“We were not able to go forward with the Two Bears and we see this as a viable alternative based nicely in the town centre.”

Simon O’Leary of Voluntary Norfolk said Yarmouth’s high levels of deprivation in a compact urban area meant housing schemes often worked well in the town.

Some wards like Middlegate were in the top 1pc for deprivation, with 70pc of the population recognised as having “complex needs” and 60pc regularly in rent arrears.

Planning permission to convert the Two Bears Hotel was granted in December despite objections from neighbours ranging from traffic to anti-social behaviour.

It is currently up for sale.