A former sheltered housing scheme could be converted into temporary accommodation for homeless households under plans submitted by Tendring District Council (TDC).
The authority wants to change the use of Spendells House, in Walton-on-the-Naze, which closed in early 2018 due to low demand. Existing tenants were moved to other sheltered schemes in the district.
Now TDC hopes to put the building, in Naze Park Road, to use by converting it into a hostel, allowing it to place homeless households there until more permanent accommodation can be found for them.
Paul Honeywood, TDC Cabinet Member for Housing, said the conversion would allow the council to make efficient use of an empty building
“Due to its former use, it is relatively straightforward to convert Spendells House for this new purpose,” Councillor Honeywood said.
“Homelessness applications and temporary accommodation placements have been increasing over recent years, a trend that shows no sign of diminishing, and we currently have to place people in private properties or bed and breakfasts.
“By having our own property to do this we can provide a better quality, suitable temporary home for those who are going through a tough time, and also reduce the amount we spend placing these people in private accommodation.”
In 2019/20 268 households were placed in emergency temporary accommodation, with an average stay of five weeks – with households staying between one day and 27 weeks.
A two-storey building with adjoining bungalow, Spendells House is made up of 26 bedsits and four one-bedroom flats, all with their own toilet, sink and kitchenette but with shared toilets, wet rooms, laundry room, recreation rooms and kitchen.
The proposed changes would not alter the external appearance, but would 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: “Those who pose a risk to others will not be placed here. Spendells is to support homeless households with a priority need, existing council tenants who need to temporarily move while repairs are undertaken to their home, or those displaced due to a flood, for example.”
The planning application will be subject to the standard consultations, with the final decision being taken by TDC’s Planning Committee.