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Plans for Jewellery Quarter drop in centre for drug addicts set to be approved

Website: Birmingham Post
Date: 31/10/2011
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PLANS by the Jesus Army to open a drop-in centre for drug addicts, prostitutes and asylum seekers in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter are likely to be approved after police chiefs raised no objection.

The proposal to convert offices in Lionel Street into a church, meeting rooms and cafe resulted in objections from the owners of up-market bars, restaurants and hotels who fear their businesses will suffer from an increase in anti-social behaviour.

More than 250 residents and businesses signed petitions urging the city planning committee to throw the application out.

The protest was backed by the Jewellery Quarter Heritage and Regeneration Group which claims that “the Jesus Army will lead to unacceptable anti-social behaviour and an acceleration of crime”.

Residents were “worried and distressed” by the proposal, the group claimed.

Solicitors acting for the owners of Cornwall House offices in Lionel Street are threatening legal action against the council if the application is approved.

But a report by West Midlands Police raises no objections and stated that a similar Jesus Army outlet in Coventry has “generated hardly any offences”.

Planning committee members will be recommended to approve the drop-in centre at their next meeting.

City planning officer Neal Allcock said the centre, which will only operate in the day, would not lead to an outbreak of crime.

He added: “The drop-in centre will provide voluntary training and help people in society aiming to increase their knowledge and training to better integrate them into society.

“The mixed commercial and residential location of the application site and the daytime operating hours of the drop-in centre means that the proposed use would not have an adverse impact on the amenity of the surrounding area”

Jesus Army spokesman John Campbell said the group was “seeking to do good in the community” and the council should welcome the centre.