The Surrey charity Transform Housing and Support is asking Elmbridge Council for a temporary change of use, for the building to accommodate up to eight vulnerable people overnight from January to March next year.
But local residents, including in Hansler Grove (where Radnor House is located), are worried it could lead to drug addicts or ex-offenders descending on the area.
Since hearing of the plans I have been in contact with Conservative colleagues at the Elmbridge Council to press for more detail and to feedback Molesey’s concerns. The housing portfolio holder, Councillor James Browne, told me: “The intention is to provide shelter for vulnerable people who would otherwise be sleeping rough during the coldest time of the year. There would be up to eight individuals staying overnight at Radnor House, from 5.30pm until 8am - and two staff on site the whole time.”
Cllr Browne said the shelter would not continue beyond March as the council’s intention is to sell Radnor House as affordable housing.
Further assurances were offered to the community by council and Transform charity representatives at a packed public meeting in Molesey on November 25th, which I attended.
Key points which emerged were: that this is a pilot scheme with a view to setting up a permanent service away from Molesey; that the entrance in Walton Road would be used instead of the one opposite The Orchard School; that boarders would have to be referred to Radnor House and will not be able to turn-up unannounced; that they will not be able to come and go in the night; and there would be a bar on ‘certain types of offenders’ staying.
Andrea Cannon of Transform said: “Homelessness is an increasing problem in Elmbridge because people can’t pay their rents, or can’t find work so they lose their homes through no fault of their own.”
Elmbridge councillors are expected to decide in December whether Radnor House can be used as a temporary shelter. The Molesey News will continue to monitor this issue and keep residents updated.