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Gedney Hill Project Diginity facility passed after South Holland district councillors were convinced by plan details

A Gedney Hill facility which aims to support homeless veterans while they are reintegrating into society was given the go-ahead by district planners.

Just under a year after the application was brought before South Holland District Council’s planning committee – and subsequently deferred due to a request for more detail – John Murray’s plans for the Project Dignity initiative can now push forward.

Members of the planning committee had previously been concerned about how the vulnerable veterans would be cared for at the facility, however new information revealed that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will be overseeing the project.

John Murray is trying to launch Project Dignity
John Murray is trying to launch Project Dignity

Coun Chris Brewis said: “I am very pleased to hear that the Care Quality Commission is involved. To a large extent that satisfies my worries.”

Chairman James Avery agreed, adding: “Given the CQC has teeth and will bite, this gives me confidence that the applicants are serious.”

Coun Brewis also spoke of how fitting it was that the application came before the committee just a day after the 79th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

The proposed facility intends to provide temporary accommodation for up to six individuals over a 12-month period, offering veterans employment opportunities, safe living arrangements, and specialised support to aid their transition back into civilian life.

Fresh information demonstrated the support needed at the site has been ‘identified by specialist partners including Tonic Health, Willow Tree and the NHS’. It was also clear that the facility would ‘only take in veterans that want to have training in skills associated with civilian life’.

Coun Andrew Woolf said: “There’s a bit of a stigma with this and I don’t know if there’s a bit of trying to tar with a bad brush.

“We’re talking about veterans – people who have served their country – wanting to try and get back into society. Maybe they’ve gone a bit wayward but they have gone through all of the discipline procedures and everything.

“Where there is an opportunity we should allow it. At the end of the day, it’s a five year condition. Where could we be in four and a half years time? Well, it could be it’s not gone as well – I mean that maybe there hasn’t been a number of veterans, a downturn – or you could find that it’s gone very well and we will be able to see the rewards of Project Dignity and what it’s done.

“It could flourish even further. I think it should be given a chance.”

Councillors voted in favour of the officers’ recommendation to approve the application.

As the decision was made, Mr Murray gasped with joy and said: “Thank you all so much.”

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