A £2.1 million project to increase the amount of much-needed temporary accommodation for people facing homelessness in Chichester District has begun.
Subject to planning permission, the council is planning to redevelop one of its properties and transform it into accommodation that will provide 17 units for single people who are homeless and vulnerable.
Today, leading councillors at Chichester District Council gave permission for the relocation of a gas pipeline, which is vital to enable the project to move forward.
Once completed, the property will complement the existing accommodation and will be managed by the council’s accommodation team.
“Sadly we’ve seen an increase in the number of those coming to us who are homeless,” explains Councillor Norma Graves, Cabinet Member for Housing, Communications, Licensing and Events at Chichester District Council. “Our existing emergency accommodation has been operating at full capacity for the past year. Unfortunately, as a result, we have been left with no other choice but to rely on finding bed and breakfast accommodation – often situated out of the district – to help keep a roof over people’s heads. We recognise that this is a far from ideal situation for those involved.
“This will give us an opportunity to provide many more units of temporary accommodation for individuals who are homeless and need additional support and at the same time maximise the space in our existing temporary accommodation for families. We know that this project will make a real long-term difference to all of those who find themselves homeless in the district.
“We need to carry out these vital gas works before we can move forward with this important project. We will be in touch with nearby residents to inform them of the work that needs to be carried out and will minimise any disruption.
Subject to planning permission, the council is aiming to have the properties ready for occupation by Summer 2021.
Cllr Graves adds: “We are committed to reducing homelessness in the district, and this is one of a number of initiatives we have introduced to tackle the issue. The council also approved the creation of a new post, to provide dedicated rough sleeper outreach on a one-to one basis and this is working really well.
“We secured more than £300,000 in Government funding, which we are using to employ additional housing advice and homelessness prevention staff including a Welfare Officer to help ensure vulnerable people are accessing all the right benefits to prevent them going into debt and being made homeless.”
It is expected that the accommodation will be funded by council investment of up to £1m with further funding to be sought from the Government agency, Homes England and the council’s Section 106 affordable homes funds.