A NEW temporary hostel on the site of a busy car park was described as looking like a “penitentiary” with a “fence Trump would be proud of” by councillors – who then gave the plans the green light anyway.

The controversial proposals for a five-storey, 58-unit modular building on the Desborough Road car park site were slammed by a neighbour and fellow councillors amid concerns about alleged drug use and prostitution in the area at a planning committee meeting on Wednesday.

The new building – which will be a bigger replacement for the “isolated” Saunderton Lodge hostel along the busy A4010 – will temporarily house vulnerable families who find themselves homeless.

Richard Lodge, from the King’s Church next door to the site, said they were “wholly supportive” of better facilities for the homeless – “the very people we feed, house and clothe ourselves” – but added that they have “serious” concerns about the plans – that they think have been ignored by the council.

He said: “The proposed design is clearly unsuitable – it is a throwback to the 1950s concrete-clad tower blocks which blighted the landscape. It is profoundly unattractive and this town deserves much, much better.”

He added that the building will overlook areas of the church where events are held for children, those with learning difficulties, people learning English and those with “unsustainable debt” – which he said compromises their privacy.

He added: “The choice to place vulnerable families in this location is frankly dangerous. The area has issues with drug and alcohol abuse and prostitution. We provided video evidence to the chairman of one example of serious violence directly opposite our facility that was reported to police a year ago.

“Antisocial behaviour is not a concept but a reality in the Desborough Road area every week – we know that because we work there.”

Cllr Alan Hill added that Desborough Road is “not the right place for the building”. He said: “I have been looking on the Bucks Free Press at how safe is your street – and within 10 minutes’ walk there have been over 200 criminal acts in a year. Is it fair to bring up children in that sort of environment?”

Cllr Lesley Clarke OBE added: “The Desborough area has a lot of anti-social behaviour from drug selling to prostitution and street drinking. The building will be overbearing in the extreme.”

Cllr Clive Harriss was less than impressed with the design, saying: “This takes me back to visiting my grandparents in their tenement in the east end. It is so outmoded. Trump would be proud of a fence like that out the front. It doesn’t complement what is there already.”

Meanwhile Cllr Hugh McCarthy added that it looks “a bit like a penitentiary” and a “bit institutionalised”.

On the other hand, Cllr Alan Turner said the building was of a “very high standard”, adding that the location is “ideal”. He said: “It’s exactly what we want. Where they were in Saunderton was absolutely dreadful. I go past there at least twice a day and would often see mothers pushing prams along the very busy A4010.

“I despair when I hear people slating the area and running it down. It is seeing massive investment in regeneration of the entire neighbourhood. The talk of prostitution and drugs – this is an area that is going upmarket. It will be one of the most desirable places to lives in Wycombe in a couple of years.”

Neil Rowley, the agent acting on behalf of the council, said the new building “needs to be in the town centre” and it will provide “fantastic housing in an area of change”.

The plans for the new hostel were passed by a majority of councillors. Proposals to demolish Manleys Trade Centre in East Richardson Street and replace that with a new car park were also given the green light at the meeting.