BUILDING work is set to begin on a controversial £1.6 million housing development for homeless young people in Kidderminster.

The Bromsgrove Street Foyer will provide 19 units of accommodation, office space for staff and training space for its residents with the aim of helping 16 to 25- year-olds access training and employment, as well as giving them somewhere safe and secure to live.

Last June, plans provoked outrage from neighbouring traders on Lion Street, who said the location was becoming a “no-go area”, with drug addicts, alcoholics and homeless people being “dumped” near their businesses.

The new development has been financed through a mixture of funding streams from various sources, including WM Housing Group, the Homes and Communities Agency, Worcestershire County Council and Wyre Forest District Council.

The scheme will be managed by St Basils, a charity that works with 16 to 25-year-olds to prevent youth homelessness.

Emma Poole, St Basil’s service manager, said the charity was “looking forward” to getting to work.

“We have been based in Kidderminster since 2009, providing support to local young people and we can see how important schemes like this are,”

she explained. “It will mirror the scheme we have in Bromsgrove, which has proved to be a great success.”

Conservative councillor Anne Hingley, district council cabinet member for place-shaping, said: “This new development will make a real contribution to reducing levels of youth unemployment and homelessness.

“The council is approached by many young people every year.

Unfortunately, good quality, supported accommodation is very limited. This scheme will make a difference to the lives of the district’s young people.”

Anna Johnston, head of development at WM Housing Group, said statistics showed youth homelessness in England had grown by a “shocking” 15 per cent in 2012.

The foyer is a key development in the eastern gateway area of the town centre, which will be redeveloped as part of the council’s Rewyre regeneration programme.