Plans for village half way house dropped

12 High Street, Westham. March 10th 2014 E10051Q SUS-141003-154305001
12 High Street, Westham. March 10th 2014 E10051Q SUS-141003-154305001

Controversial plans to open a half way house for addicts in the village of Westham have been dropped.

Almost 200 people turned out to a public meeting on Monday to voice their concerns at plans by the Kingdom Way Trust to turn a family house into supported accommodation for up to six men.

The trust wanted to buy the house and had applied to Wealden District Council to use the house for multiple occupancy. But on Wednesday morning the trust and the current owner of the house, who works at the nearby school, said they were pulling out of any transaction and the property was back up for sale.

KWT said it wanted to create a shared house for six men, living together as a single household and receiving care, staying there for between six months and two years. Those against the project said they were not opposed to the concept and could not morally condemn anything that helped recovering addicts but were concerned at the little experience the people behind the scheme had.

Kevin Balsdon organised the public meeting and said, “The Kingdom Way Trust came to the meeting and it became apparent they had no experience in doing this kind of thing, were very naive, vague and completely out of their depth. We agree that morally we should help people but there were no guarantees that people living in this half way house were not on the Sex Offenders’ Register or criminals.”

Stephen Brown from KWT said, “We aim to provide supported accommodation for carefully selected people who have been homeless or near homeless for whatever reason, and are committed to positive change. We also recognise the importance of good communications at every level during the set up processes and we have learned valuable lessons from the events of the past week.

“We have, therefore, come to see that the best way forward for all concerned is to withdraw our plans to proceed with the purchase of property in Westham. It is with some sadness that we have arrived at this decision, it has never been our intention to cause division or upset within the community.

“We welcome this opportunity in wishing all residents of Westham God’s peace and rich blessings.”