PLANS to bring ex-offender housing back into use in a Winchester street have sparked fears among residents of drug dealing in the streets.

The move, which was confirmed by the building’s new owner, former Hampshire High Sheriff Mark Thistlethwayte, will see two ex-offenders being released from Winchester prison accommodated at Alleyne House, in Hyde Street. It will also house a warden and five tenants from Winchester City Council’s housing waiting list.

It comes nearly three years after the previous ex-offenders’ facility at Alleyne House closed, although Mr Thistlethwayte said the new facility would be managed to stop it crime and disorder returning to the area.

Hampshire Chronicle:

As previously reported, Alleyne House was operated by Stonham Housing Association, part of the Home Group, after a donation from the Alleyne family in the late 1970s or early 1980s, but was boarded up in 2016.

Residents on the street fear that with Alleyne House being near to homeless support charity West View House, residents would be faced with disruption and crime.

Professor Nigel Wood, a resident of Hyde Street said: “They will immediately be targeted by drug dealers, nobody will benefit,” adding that when the previous facility was open “there was a great deal of police interaction”.

He also criticised the lack of communication with residents, saying he was made aware of the plans by builders at the site.

Hyde Close resident Mike Lawton added: “I’ve lived in Hyde for 15 years and when I read that Winchester is one of the best places in this country to live, I always feel inclined to add ‘except Hyde’, especially Hyde Close and Hyde Street.

Hampshire Chronicle:

“Now things will probably become even worse.”

Mr Lawton added: “The community have put up with drunkenness, shouting and fighting throughout the night, even urinating in people’s doorways. Living with this has been hell especially for old people and young families.

“Alleyne House has been empty for the past three years. Before it closed it too was a place for drugs, alcoholics and violence. The residents of both hostels (Alleyne House and West View House) were in close communication. What chance of rehabilitating will the new residents of Alleyne House have based on the history?”

Defending the plan, Mr Thistlethwayte said that currently ex-offenders leave Winchester Prison with nowhere to go. “Surprise, surprise they reoffend immediately,” he said.

“Years ago, Alleyne House worked perfectly well as a bail hostel,” he said, but acknowledged “things went wrong” in the years before it closed when there was not a warden at the facility.

Mr Thistlethwayte added: “There will be a full-time warden. We are not talking about the most chaotic individuals.”

Mr Thistlethwayte said he had been working with Winchester City Council for over a year on the project, and had been in meetings with a number of parties, including the police and crime commissioner and ward councillors to take on board concerns.

However, Cllr Dominic Hiscock, the local ward councillor, said he needed more details on the plans before he could back it. He said: “We were involved early on. We expressed our concern. I want more detail about how it is going to be managed. [Residents] have heard it all before... I think he needs to talk to the residents.

“I cannot see how the level of control that is needed is going to be paid for. He has to talk to the residents.”

It is set to be managed by charity Trinity Winchester.

A Winchester City Council said: "We have expressed our concerns regarding the potential usage of Alleyne House. We are keen to support the local community and the housing provider to ensure appropriate referrals are made in to the project.”

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