PLANS to turn a derelict Shirebrook hotel into a hostel for homeless men have been approved.
The charity Lighthouse Homes will transform the Great Northern Hotel, in Main Street, into a home for up to 16 males.
A 1,600-stong petition against the proposal had been submitted to Bolsover District Council but the planning committee voted seven for and six against.
Oppostion came from residents and businesses who said the hostel will lead to increased crime in the area.
Julie Bloor, principal at Shirebrook Academy, said she had ‘grave concerns’ about the impact it would have on the community.
Judith Derricott, health improvement manager at Derbyshire County PCT, said the availability of low price alcohol nearby is a concern.
Lighthouse Homes has a similar project in Rotherham which was nominated for The Duke of York’s Community Initiative Award.
Manager Darren Jones said the Shirebrook hostel will be a completely ‘dry house’ with a zero tolerance policy on alcohol consumption both inside or outside the property with strict curfews.
Those using the centre will have been referred by local councils, drug and alcohol services and the Probation Service.
Some users will be taken directly from prison but dangerous criminals such as arsonists, those convicted of racially motivated offences and violent sexual offenders will not be admitted.
Anyone requiring mental health treatment or on a dose of methadone higher than 50ml wont be taken on.
Mr Jones said: “We are delighted becuase we care about people.The community is still quite fearful but we are here to work with the people in Shirebrook and make it a safer place.
“There is a stigma about druggies and alcoholics associated with homelessness but it is far wider than that. Some of the kindest and most compassionate people can end up homeless. It is going to take time for the community to understand what an amazing project it is.”