09/07/2024 - Permalink

Cabinet asked to approve plans to expand its temporary accommodation offer for homeless people

Related topics: Housing

Shropshire Council’s Cabinet will be asked to consider proposed plans on Wednesday 17 July to make use of the Tannery East building in Shrewsbury as temporary supported housing for homeless people. 

Library image of man in accommodation. Photo credit: Vlada Karpovich

Library image of man in accommodation. Photo credit: Vlada Karpovich

The proposal is part of the council’s wider temporary accommodation programme, which aims to help people achieve independent living through providing comprehensive support to find long-term housing and work.  

The Cabinet report provides an update on progress, to end the use of bed and breakfast or hotel accommodation for homeless people as temporary accommodation. The report outlines plans for better alternatives, and seeks approval for the proposed use of the Tannery East building on St. Austin’s Street, Shrewsbury for a period of three years to provide temporary accommodation, improving the quality of the service, and generating significant cost savings.  

Plans involve using the 61 en suite rooms at the Tannery East, clustered around shared kitchens and communal spaces, for single people who are statutorily homeless or at risk of homelessness. 

The programme aims to reduce the reliance on unsuitable and expensive bed and breakfast accommodation, which is currently costing the council around £2.5 million per year. There are currently around 250 households in temporary accommodation (figures fluctuate on a weekly basis). Of these, about 100 single people are in hotel/B&B accommodation. 

Councillor Dean Carroll, Cabinet Member for Housing and Assets said:  

“As with many local authorities across the country, Shropshire is seeing an increase in people who are presenting themselves as homeless. 

“We currently do not have sufficient supported accommodation to house those who are statutorily homeless and qualify for this type of accommodation. Therefore, we must look at how we can extend our temporary accommodation offer. 

“The proposed scheme will offer supported living to single homeless people, with round-the-clock on-site management and support from experienced staff. This accommodation is intended to be short term, for a period of three years, while the council develops more permanent solutions for providing temporary accommodation in Shropshire. 

“This proposal is a great opportunity for the council and for those we have a duty to help. It will allow us to offer high-quality temporary accommodation and support for 61 single homeless people, while also saving money for the Council and making the best use of a Council asset.  

“It will also cut down on the use of B&B/hotel accommodation, which is often not ideal, costly and far from local support services. 

“We appreciate that residents and businesses may have questions about how the proposal will work in practice. We want to assure you we will work with the local community and partners to address any queries they may have about the Tannery East proposals. We have set up a series of FAQs and a dedicated email address where residents and business can ask further questions.”  

 Councillor Dean Carroll continued.  

“We have a statutory duty to support those who are or at risk of being homeless. We understand that homelessness is not just about having no place to stay, but also linked to other complex needs and situations. Homelessness can harm a person’s physical and mental health and wellbeing.  

“We want to help people secure better futures, and providing safe and well-managed accommodation is a key part of our offer. We also know that this accommodation, along with personalised support and a good management plan, can form a vital and important new provision for our community. 

“Homelessness can happen to anyone, and we work with people from different backgrounds and situations, such as former military personnel, tenants evicted from their homes, or domestic abuse survivors. We offer support to most people we engage with, and we keep working with various partners to prevent homelessness and help homeless people find accommodation and work.” 

If approved, the council hopes to bring the Tannery East building into operation as temporary accommodation in October 2024, subject to planning approval. The building will be staffed 24/7 and have housing support staff on site to help residents address their issues and move on to more permanent accommodation. 

The leases of Lunts Pharmacy, the Riverside Medical Practice, and others who share the Tannery building, will not be affected by these proposals. 

A series of FAQs around the temporary housing proposals for the Tannery East can be found at Extending temporary accommodation in Shropshire | Shropshire Council.  

If you have any questions or comments about the Tannery East proposals, you can contact the project team by email at newtemporaryhousing@shropshire.gov.uk.    

To view the report, go to Agenda for Cabinet on Wednesday, 17th July, 2024, 2.00 pm — Shropshire Council.

Further information 

  • The Council has a statutory duty to provide temporary accommodation to homeless people. In recent years Shropshire has seen an increase in homeless presentations due to various factors, such as the introduction of the Homelessness Prevention Act 2017, the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, the Covid 19 pandemic and the ongoing cost of living crisis. In March 2024, the Council had 240 households in temporary accommodation, of whom 106 were in B&B accommodation, mostly single people. 
  • In 2023/24, the council managed to reduce the cost of providing temporary accommodation by £1.5m compared with 2022/23. However, the net cost to the Council was still £3.472m. Delivering the current programme of additional temporary accommodation provision will help significantly reduce the net cost 
  • Tannery East was initially built as new student accommodation. Since its completion the building has housed students as part of an agreement with University Centre Shrewsbury (UCS). However, the number of courses available in Shrewsbury have been insufficient to keep the building fully occupied by their students. Hence other student cohorts, such as apprentices and student nurses, have been attracted to maintain occupancy. However, with the anticipated closure of the UCS operation in Shrewsbury this year, many of the residential rooms are now vacant, which has led to a re-evaluation of the use of the residential portions of the building. 
  • The proposal is to use the building for temporary accommodation for a period of three years, while the Council develops other options for temporary and longer-term accommodation for homeless people, such as the Parish Rooms in Bridgnorth, Coton Hill House in Shrewsbury, and newbuild and renovation schemes in partnership with STAR Housing and local Registered Providers. The Council will review the use of the Tannery East building at the end of the three-year period and consider alternative uses.