Plans for high-quality homeless accommodation in Kidderminster unanimously approved

Plans to build a block of high-quality, short-term accommodation for the homeless have been unanimously approved by Wyre Forest District Council.

The proposed new residential block on the site of an underused car park in New Street will enable the council to reduce its use of bed and breakfast and hotel accommodation which is an expensive form of temporary accommodation.

The plans were unanimously approved by the planning committee on Tuesday 20 September 2022.

A report by Wyre Forest District Council officers to the planning committee stated that the poor health, education and employment outcomes of households accommodated in Bed and Breakfasts is well known and that building this new short-term accommodation will “save a large amount of funding.”

In 2021, the council appointed public sector property experts PSP to investigate the feasibility of the scheme located in Castle Road, Kidderminster town centre and to handle the planning processes.

The approved plans will lead to the creation of 20 new en-suite apartments, including seven double bedroom flats, seven single bedrooms flats and six flats for disabled people.

Councillor Nicky Martin, Wyre Forest District Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Health, Wellbeing and Democratic Services, said:

“We are excited to be progressing with this new development and are grateful to PSP for helping us to design this high-quality solution. Delivering new accommodation supports the council’s strategic action ‘to increase affordable housing’. It will help people affected by homelessness return to a life of self-sustaining independence including obtaining or maintaining employment, progressing with education or training, and reconnecting with family, friends and the community.”

The increase in people affected by homelessness is a growing national issue for local authorities across England.

The latest Government figures for 2020/21 show that the total spend on temporary accommodation for homeless households was £1.36bn. Meanwhile the total expenditure on B&B accommodation for homeless households was £444.4m.

Of that £444.4m, local authorities in England spent £188.3million of funding from council budgets placing homeless households in bed and breakfasts in 2020/21.

Mark Davis, Partnerships Director at PSP, said:

“Councils across England are having to cope with increasing numbers of people affected by homelessness. In 2020/21 councils across England spent £188m of their funding tackling this issue – a 605% increase on the £26.7 million they spent in 2010/11.

“At the same time many councils have underused assets such as car parks and offices which can be developed or converted to deliver new, high-quality housing for people affected by homelessness. Research conducted by Knight Frank in 2020 found that developing just 15% of public sector-owned car parks could unlock the construction of 110,000 new homes. By delivering housing on underused assets councils can help alleviate homelessness and assist people and their families to get back to living more productive and more fulfilling lives more quickly.”

The result of the planning committee comes two weeks after PSP officially launched its new asset and development management consultancy services to help councils develop new homes, boost income, cut costs, drive regeneration and improve energy efficiency by rightsizing land and property assets.

Since 2007, PSP, asset and development projects have helped to deliver 4,500 new jobs, £184 million in land value uplift, over 2,000 new homes and 680kT in carbon emission savings.

Building work for the new short-term accommodation scheme is expected to start in late 2022 and the project is scheduled to be completed in autumn 2023.