MORE than 5,000 students could be placed at risk from “county lines” drug dealers if plans to open a short-stay homeless hostel go ahead.

That’s the warning from college chiefs in a letter to Brighton and Hove City Council.

The council plans to convert two neighbouring properties into a hostel for 20 homeless people and rough sleepers. The properties are a former care home in Caburn Road, Hove, and a shared house in Dyke Road, by the Old Shoreham Road traffic lights.

They are opposite Bhasvic (Brighton, Hove and Sussex VI Form College) and a short walk from Cardinal Newman Catholic School.

The council said the “service model” would be similar to William Collier House, in North Road, Brighton, George Williams Mews, in Portslade, and the Equinox Women’s Service, Hove.

All three places help people with a history of drink and drug problems and none is as close to so many teenagers – a target group for “county lines” dealers.

In a letter to the council, Bhasvic chiefs said: “Firstly, we would like to make clear our support for any project which seeks to provide housing, shelter and rehabilitation services for the homeless.

“However, as the senior management team of the neighbouring sixth form college, we feel there are some clear risks, which need to be seriously considered by the local authority, in consultation with Sussex Police, in siting this particular project here.

“In the context of ‘county lines’ activity, which may specifically target vulnerable people who are located together, there would appear to be significant risks if the accommodation is positioned directly opposite a college of 3,000 16 to 19-year-old students, many of whom travel from across the county, with all the attendant potential for reaching a much wider ‘market’ to be exploited by the ‘county lines’ gangs.

“The risk may be perceived as even more acute given the fact that Cardinal Newman secondary school is within five minutes’ walk”.

The council said that the premises would be staffed by professionals around the clock 365 days a year and would house rough sleepers and single homeless people for up to 28 days.

A report to the council’s planning committee, which meets on Wednesday, recommends approving the scheme.