News / Housing

Converted offices in south Bristol could help meet housing need

By ellie pipe, Wednesday Aug 19, 2020

Former office buildings on Whitchurch Lane could be used to help provide long-term homes for people currently living in emergency hotel accommodation.

Under proposals going to Bristol City Council’s cabinet on September 1, around 70 individuals housed under the Government’s ‘everyone in’ scheme could move on to the Imperial Apartments development, along with an additional 146 households currently in temporary housing.

Caridon Group is the developer behind plans to convert the former Parkview offices into 465 new homes – 266 of which will be built in the first phase of development and 199 in the second.

The London-based firm has already converted a number of former offices blocks across the South East into residential accommodation under controversial 2013 permitted development rights legislation that does not require a full planning application process.

This will be the first arrangement of its kind for Bristol City Council, which estimates a further 940 homes will be needed over the course of the coming year. It says secure arrangements with larger portfolio landlords and developers is key to meeting current and ongoing demand.

Bristol City Council estimates it will need to find an additional 940 homes over the coming year – photo by Martin Booth

The plan for Parkview is for the council to take on 216 of the first round of flats, which are almost ready for letting now, while the remaining two-bedroom homes will be let on the private market.

Paul Smith, the cabinet member for housing, has recently warned of a “cliff edge” approaching with the winding up of Government schemes, including furlough and the ‘everyone in’ campaign that helped rough sleepers off the streets when Covid hit, as well as an end to the ban on evictions.

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Read more: Concern homelessness could rise as support schemes end

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Speaking about the plans to provide move-on accommodation at the Hengrove site, Smith said: “We are committed to making sure that people do not return to the streets, and securing suitable move-on accommodation is one of our key priorities.

“It is essential that we get the right mix of households living in the site so we can achieve a sustainable and balanced community. This will help meet the varying housing needs of individuals and families across the city, and in particular contribute to the range and supply of move-on accommodation for those who are homeless and at risk of homelessness in Bristol.”

Revealing details before the cabinet papers are published, a council spokesperson said: “Imperial Apartments centres around creating a diverse and successful community, ensuring that the development is a positive and safe environment for people to live.

“Caridon and Bristol City Council are jointly committed to making Imperial Apartments a place where people want to live and feel part of the local community.”

The flats are only suitable for people with little to no support needs and will be rented at the local housing allowance rates, so people eligible for housing benefit will see have their rent covered.

Bristol City Council says work is ongoing on the One City Move-on Accommodation programme, which aims to “significantly increase” the supply and range of accommodation available for those who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.

Measures include working more effectively and proactively with private landlords, developers and registered providers; repurposing and bringing council-owned properties back into use; more larger scale leasing or nominations arrangements, similar to those at Imperial Apartments, and an increased use of innovative solutions including modular housing.

The council is keen to hear from anyone with property available to let now or in the coming year. Landlords who work with the council to help tackle homelessness are promised a package of support, including a rent guarantee.

Main photo courtesy of Bristol City Council

Read more: Fears homelessness could rise to catastrophic levels in Bristol

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