Locals have expressed support for a new Herefordshire community support centre – though it has also generated a backlash.

A currently live planning application seeks permission to change the use of a former gym to the rear of Gloucester Road, Ross-on-Wye to become “@theHub”, on which work is already progressing.

Its backer Milly Boylan explained that 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…”

Numerous partner community organisations are already involved with the project’s work, she added.

Four messages supporting the planning application, which remains open to comment on until February 19, have so far been published.

“This is an amazing community project that many people are in need of for a whole number of reasons, from help to just some company,” Ross resident Sara Brace said.

Katie Fowler said it would be “a massive asset to the town”.

And Maria King said: “Our community needs this service urgently to support vulnerable people who are in desperate need of help in this time of increasing poverty, leading to mental and physical illness.”

Ms Boyland said her plan for the centre “has caused a backlash – it has stirred up all sorts of bigotry” and even confrontation with a neighbour.

But she claimed it would generate less traffic and noise than in the building’s current permitted use as a gym.