A former block of sheltered housing is to be converted into temporary accommodation to support those facing homelessness.
Spendells House, in Walton-on-the-Naze, was closed by Tendring District Council (TDC) in early 2018 due to low demand, with existing tenants moved elsewhere.
Now planning permission has been granted for TDC to convert the building, in Naze Park Road, for use by homeless households until permanent accommodation can be secured for them.
TDC’s Planning Committee approved the plans at a meeting last night (Tuesday, 15 December) for change of use. Planning permission also now paves the way for internal alterations to be carried out for the new use.
Paul Honeywood, TDC Cabinet Member for Housing, said Spendells would be an important asset to the council.
“Homelessness applications continue to rise – and sadly the indicators suggest this trend is not going to change – with around 35 local families a month approaching the council in order to seek advice or help,” Councillor Honeywood said.
“Being able to temporarily house people who find themselves without somewhere to stay is a vital step in getting them back onto their feet.
“In addition, as applications increase so does the cost to the council of temporarily homing people in bed and breakfasts or other accommodation – often far from ideal for families with children. By taking part of this ‘in-house’ will bring this back under our control, in terms of both quality and cost, and free up tourist accommodation which is vital if our seaside towns are to prosper.
“To allay fears raised by some, people who pose a risk to others will not be housed here. Spendells is to support homeless households who are high priority, existing council tenants who need to move out for repairs to be carried out to their permanent home, or those left homeless due to a flood or natural disaster, for example.”
Spendells House is a two-storey building and adjoining bungalow, made up of 26 bedsits and four one-bedroom flats. Each has its own toilet, sink and kitchenette but with shared toilets, wet rooms, laundry room, recreation rooms and kitchen.
The approved changes will not alter the external appearance, but will convert rooms inside to make a wheelchair accessible flat, additional washing facilities, and lockable adjoining doors to ten of the bedsits to allow greater flexibility to accommodate families.
The bungalow would be converted into an office and interview room, where TDC’s Housing team and partners can provide support to the temporary residents.
Two full-time staff would be on site during working hours, with flexible staffing outside of those times.
Councillor Honeywood added: “Being able to have a facility on site to provide that support so-needed by families finding themselves in this situation will be invaluable.”