A FORMER sheltered housing complex in Walton will be mainly used to house local homeless families rather than ex-offenders, town councillors have been assured.

Some Frinton and Walton town councillors were left concerned after plans were mooted to house the homeless in Spendells House, off Naze Park Road, which was closed by Tendring Council last year in a bid to save cash.

The 30-flat block was built in the early Sixties and had proved to be unpopular for years because of the shared facilities and design.

Tendring Council housing bosses want to convert the dated building, but last month some councillors said they feared the complex will become a large House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

Walton councillor Delyth Miles previously said she supported the housing of ex-offenders in the block as long as they originate from Tendring, but other councillors were left outraged at the suggestion.

Following a behind-closed-doors meeting with Tendring Council’s head of housing on Thursday, town council mayor Fiona Robertson said they have been “assured” the building will be used for families.

Mrs Miles added: “The categorical reassurance that we have had is that it’s predominantly going to be for families. They are Tendring families,

“The length of stay is temporary but will be months.

“I have worked with four families in the past 18 months - and I wouldn’t want to be in their position

“There will be some single people too, who’s needs are just as great.

“To put them in a hotel is just not fit for purpose. They have no cooking facilities or laundry facilities.

“This is a long-term aim to stop these families going downhill.”

She told residents at a meeting of the town council that she understands their worries, but assured them that tenancy agreements would be tight to prevent antisocial behaviour.

Councillor Terry Allen, who had previously spoken out against plans to house ex-offenders, added: “The district council's plan is to convert a lot of the rooms into bigger rooms so they can house families.

“These people are not living in sleeping bags, they’re local families who are being evicted through no fault of their own.

“This has happened because of tax reasons, with landlords giving up renting out private accommodation.

“When contracts are finished, they’re evicting people – couples with children, single people with children.

“You’ll have the odd single person there, but they will be local people who have been made homeless.”

He said it is expected to take more than a year for the building to be converted after planning permissions are obtained.

“At the moment these families are in temporary accommodation in hotel rooms – it’s not suitable," he added.

Resident turned out to the meeting to object to plans to convert for building.

Patricia Tatum, from Naze Park Road, said she has lived near the site for 17 years.

“I’ve got real concerns, especially with the proposal put forward that the property might be housing ex-offenders,” she said.

One resident said she was concerned that the building would be used to house homeless people from Clacton, while another accused councillors who supported the proposal of "turning their backs" on nearby residents.

It is expected that the plans to convert the building will go before Tendring Council’s cabinet in the “very near future”.