CIVIC chiefs say they have expressed concerns about plans to reopen ex-offender accommodation in Winchester city centre.

It comes after residents voiced their fears of crime and drug dealing returning when Alleyne House in Hyde Street reopens.

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 there.

Hampshire Chronicle:

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 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.

Now Winchester City Council, which was involved in discussions with Mr Thistlethwayte, has commented on the move for the first time.

A spokesman 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.”

That followed comments from ward councillor Dominic Hiscock, who had been in contact with residents over the plans. Cllr Hiscock said he needed more details on the plans before he could back it.

He added: “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.”

Hampshire Chronicle:

Since the plan was first publicly revealed by the Chronicle last week, a number of residents have written to express their concerns about what it could mean for the area, as well as about not being informed sooner.

Marco Petroni, of Hyde Street, wrote: “As a young couple living in Hyde Street opposite Alleyne House, we want to express our concern about the reopening.

“We are disappointed that we did not hear about its reopening sooner and feel as residents living so close to the building we should have known through the council, not local news.”

As previous reported, Mr Thistlethwayte defended the plan, saying when ex-offenders leave Winchester Prison, they have 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.

The facility is due to managed by charity Trinity Winchester, who are yet to comment.