Homeless charity makes way for new homes

LOOKING TO EXPAND ... St Mary's Centre is to be demolished. Below, Jean Burnside and her staff are preparing to leave.
LOOKING TO EXPAND ... St Mary's Centre is to be demolished. Below, Jean Burnside and her staff are preparing to leave.

A HOMELESS charity is preparing to move out of a South Tyneside complex – as plans are submitted to demolish it and create 37 much-needed new homes for rent.

The Key Project provides advice, support and accommodation to young people aged 16-25 who are experiencing hardship or are threatened with homelessness.

Key Project for the young homeless is being made homeless - seeking new base for its food bank and appealing for help.'chief officer Jean Burnside

Key Project for the young homeless is being made homeless - seeking new base for its food bank and appealing for help.'chief officer Jean Burnside

It currently operates from St Mary’s Centre in Whitehead Street at Tyne Dock, South Shields.

But that building is being demolished with Gateshead-based Isos Housing having submitted an application to South Tyneside Council to build 37 affordable homes for rent on the site.

Members of the council’s planning committee will be recommended to agree that application when they meet next week.

Happily, the Key Project, set up in 1992 by volunteers from several borough churches, has a new home to move in to when it leaves St Mary’s this coming Friday.

Its 10 full-time and part-time workers and 15 volunteers, who directly support and advise up to 100 young people each year, are to move above the Salvation Army headquarters in Wawn Street, South Shields.

And Jean Burnside, chief officer with the project, has assured the public the vital charity’s future was never been in doubt.

She said: “There was no question of the service closing. We are, in fact, looking to expand the range of services we offer.”

If approved, the new housing complex will comprise of 27 two bedroom homes, four three bedroom properties and six two bedroom bungalows.

Three objections to the application will be considered by committee members next week.

One resident in nearby Lord Nelson Street says the new properties would “block out light to my flat” and another resident in the same street claims the development was “far too big” and out of character with other homes nearby.

But a report to the committee concludes that “the potential environment impact of the development has been considered and is not considered to demonstrate material harm”.

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul