Plans to convert a disused Hereford public toilet into a “sleeper pod” for a homeless person have come under fire.

Rev Andy Morgan, vicar at St Peter’s Church which sits alongside the former public loo at the top of Union Street in the city centre, said he had had “zero communication” from Herefordshire Council over its proposal – despite the church having been “a key partner in homeless work for over a decade”.

“I am particularly frustrated at the way this proposal has come about,” he said, and hoped that “a culture change can happen” within the council “to actually start working with people rather than just coming up with their own plans”.


He also sought assurances that vulnerable people accessing the church and its neighbouring hall would be safe if the proposal went ahead.

His colleague, associate vicar Rev Andy Dodwell, also questioned whether the council could even demonstrate ownership of the toilet building, “which sits within the curtilage of the church hall”.

Through his work as a night-time street pastor in the city, he had found “vomit, bottles and food waste on the ground outside the old toilet on many occasions”.

What are your thoughts?

You can send a letter to the editor to have your say by clicking here.

Letters should not exceed 250 words and local issues take precedence.

“This [planning] application, if approved, would temporarily house a vulnerable person in what I would describe as an unsafe location,” Rev Dodwell said.

For Hereford Civic Society, Peter Taylor thought that “to house someone in what is essentially a prison cell cannot be the right thing to do”.

And he questioned how the “isolated, minimally sized” building met the council’s own requirement for “appropriate housing” set out in its homelessness policy, and how future occupants, who may have “complex and challenging needs”, could meaningfully be supported there.


Hereford resident Lynne Bowers thought the plan was “dreadful” and feared that homeless people, “vulnerable in any event”, would be “a target for criminality” at such a prominent spot.

The council’s own environmental health officer said that rooms used for sleeping accommodation should comply with the council’s standards, which set a minimum size for a bedroom of 6.5 square metres. Measurements are not given in the council's submitted plans.

The pod would also need accessible, openable window, heating and an extraction fan, they said.

Herefordshire Council planners have yet to determine the application.