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Jewellery Quarter Church plan stalled over anti-social behaviour claims

Website: birmingham Mail
Date: 29/08/2011
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PLANS for a new evangelical church in the city centre have stalled following claims it might create anti-social behaviour.

A group of Jewellery Quarter businesses are up in arms over the Jesus Army bid to turn disused offices in Lionel Street, into a new church.

Their concerns revolve around the Army's proposals for a drop-in centre for drug-addicts, the homeless, prostitutes and deprived people.

Director of property firm LLM Tim Horwitch-Smith, speaking on behalf of a group of local businesses, said: “We understand the church intends to welcome the homeless, sex workers, ex-offenders and drug addicts.

“While their work is commendable, with re-offending rates what they are we fear we are very likely to see an increase in anti-social behaviour.”

He pointed out the area is making a bid for World Heritage Status. “This could be extremely bad for the Jewellery Quarter,” he added.

Church spokesman Laurence Cooper replied that the drop-in centre would only be open during the day and was just a small part of the Army's community work. He produced a letter from Coventry police in which the church was praised for a positive impact on the community there.

The council's planning committee was concerned that a statement from West Midlands Police on the anti-social behaviour issue was “ambiguous”, neither supporting the Church nor the objections.

Coun Barry Henley (Lab, Brandwood) said that he thought the objections were based on “classic nimbyism” - “not in my back yard”.

But he added that while the police were sitting on the fence, he was unable to take an objective view.

A decision was deferred for further consultation.