A PLAN for a new county centre for needy folks which provoked strong views both for and against has been approved.

Milly Boylan applied in January for planning permission to convert a former gym in Corpus Christi Lane, Ross-on-Wye, to become Warm Welcome, intended to provide a range of help for young parents, care leavers, forces veterans, those with health needs and the homeless.

Her application for the building, just to the rear of Gloucester Road, drew 42 messages of support, but also 16 objections.

The latter focussed on potential problems of parking, access and deliveries along the single-track lane, but also raised concerns of people “hanging around” and smoking outside.

Herefordshire Council’s highways engineer Hope Rees did not see a problem with the road access, pointing out that the spot “is in a central location which can be accessed via the bus”.

There are “a number of public carparks and on-street parking which visitors using the centre will be able to make use of”, added their report.

Planning officer Joshua Evans said he was treating the application as retrospective as the building was already being put to its new use.

This use does not increase car journeys to the building or compromise highway safety, he said.

And he pointed out that there was nothing to stop the building being used as a day nursery or a café under its existing permission, the impact of which would be not be dissimilar in noise and amenity terms.

Applicant Milly Boylan said homeless people would be “only a small part” of those using the centre, given she has already succeeded in helping homeless people in the town access accommodation.

“I am passionate about helping the homeless,” she said. “But we are here for young mums and dads, young people out of care, forces veterans, people needing help with health and employment…”

It can only be used from 8am-5pm weekdays and 9am-5pm on Saturdays, and not on Sundays and holidays, while deliveries are restricted to 10am-4pm weekdays and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

Any new external lighting is tightly limited, while any signs would need a separate applications, and only community and recreational use will be allowed.