Youth facility location sparks controversy

Jimmy McLauchlan
Jimmy McLauchlan
The Methodist Mission has brought forward information sessions about a youth housing facility in Woodhaugh after concerns were raised by neighbours.

The Methodist Mission announced in September it had plans for a ``youth transition home'' in Woodhaugh St as part of a joint pilot programme with the Government.

It was reported neighbours of the facility had been consulted.

However, neighbouring local business owner Linsey Morton-Lowe said no residents in the immediate vicinity were consulted.

Mr Morton-Lowe understood the need for a facility and said it was ultimately a positive thing.

However, he believed there should have been more information provided to those in the area before the announcement.

``I think there would have been opposition.''

He was worried there would be increased police presence and the impact on the ``family orientated'' area.

Methodist Mission business development leader Jimmy McLauchlan said the mission had always planned to consult neighbours but had not done so at the time of the announcement.

Since Mr Morton-Lowe had raised his concerns, Mr McLauchlan said the information sessions had been brought forward.

``Our earlier planning was for information to be provided in early-mid November, via notifying local residents, as part of our wider stakeholder consultations so we'll simply move this forward a few weeks.''

Information sessions with residents who are interested in finding out more about the facility are likely to be scheduled for next week.

Mr McLauchlan said the facility would not house any young people who might be considered ``higher risk'', such as those convicted of violence or sexual offences or those with complex psychiatric needs.

The facility, due to open in late January, would provide a safe, secure environment for young people to help them ``move quickly'' through to independent living.

It would be fully supervised and community-based and would provide support for education, employment, health and social services.

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