PLANS for a homeless shelter in Westcliff have been resubmitted on a smaller scale - even though it’s open already.

Off The Streets has reapplied for a change of use at 505 London Road, from a shop to a shelter.

Southend Standard:

Try again - Off The Streets has reapplied for a change of use at 505 London Road

Kirsty Louise, 29, group founder and project manger, said the local community is now behind the project, despite previous concerns.

She said: “We are now asking for temporary change of use for between 12 and 18 months, to help reassure residents.

“We were asking for accommodation for 12 people, but now we’re asking for only five who are here.

“It is so nice, as we are having great chats with residents.

“They have all been so kind and supportive, people are stopping to talk with us about our work and some are even volunteering with us now.

“It is nice they can now see how we are working on the issue.

“The community has been amazing. It is difficult to say what will happen next, but we have our fingers crossed.

“So far we’ve rehoused 40 people in 34 weeks - and I’m so proud of that.”

Tony Cox, Tory leader of Southend Council, praised the group.

He said: “It was former councillors who stopped this going through.

“As a council we were working to find them somewhere else to go, so all that good was not lost after all.

“I have seen the good work this group can and does do.”

However, residents who spoke with the Echo gave mixed reaction.

Some raised questions about why it has been opened before permission was granted.

Kerry Baxter, 33, said: “I am unsure on it - they do amazing work but we do need complete reassurance about no issues or trouble.

“We should not generalise about homeless, but everyone does I think.

“I’ve heard mixed views on this, if they prove there’s no trouble then fine with me.”

The grassroots project opened the new shelter in London Road, Westcliff, at the beginning of September.

It submitted a retrospective change of use planning application to Southend Council on September 13, but this was rejected at the end of November.

The group received the keys in April, having decided to leave a shelter in Southchurch last year following complaints from residents.

The council refused plans over concern about loss of shopping areas and the number of people catered for.

It has previously been backed by Sir David Amess.