Plans have been submitted to install metal railings outside the National Records of Scotland building in Edinburgh in a bid to clamp down on anti-social behaviour.
The move is perceived to be a bid to deter rough sleepers from seeking shelter at the A-listed building, after anti-social behaviour including people defecating in the alcoves, drinking on the steps, and using needles.
The NRS did not link any of the anti-social behaviour back to any homeless people occupying the building, but did highlight incidents of rough sleepers having their sleeping bags set on fire at the property.
Plans to install metal railings along the entrance to West Register House on Charlotte Square to keep rough sleepers out were submitted to The City of Edinburgh Council on March 26.
Critics said the area is considered to be somewhere homeless people feel less at risk, due to CCTV cameras, but the council says currently only ten people are sleeping on the streets.
Founder of homeless charity Steps to Hope, Richard Roncero, 37, has called for the safety of homeless sleepers to be taken into consideration.
Richard, who slept rough in the city as a youth, said: “My initial thought when I heard about the planning application was that we are limiting the safe places where homeless people can sleep even more.
“I do understand from a business point of view why nobody would want rough sleepers on their premises, but it’s important to remember that we are talking about people who have no homes and have to sleep on the street.
“When you are living on the street it all comes down to survival and safety and people have to go where they feel least at risk.”
Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Convener councillor Kate Campbell said: “Because of the extra support and accommodation we’ve put in place with our third sector partners during the pandemic we now have, we believe, less than ten people still rough sleeping in Edinburgh.”
A spokesman for NRS said: “There has been a number of incidents of anti-social behaviour at West Register House over the course of a number of years.
“NRS has worked with Police Scotland during this time to manage these incidents.
“Our priority is the safety of building users and the protection of this listed building.”