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Sidegate Lane Temporary Housing Unit

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Ipswich Borough Council has recently been granted planning permission for the development of a temporary housing unit on the site of the empty care home on Sidegate Lane.

In Ipswich, homelessness numbers have increased by 75% since 2010. The Council is required by law to provide accommodation for people who are assessed as homeless with a priority need. These are usually households who have been in private rented accommodation and have lost their home. Currently, some of them have to be housed in B&B accommodation, which is a poor experience for families, especially those with young children.

There are established arrangements with hostels and support services in central Ipswich and the temporary housing unit will not be directly accommodating rough sleepers. The intention is that 80% of the rooms at Sidegate Lane will be for families with children. No person that is a danger to children will be placed at Sidegate Lane.

Supporting documents:

Building works

The Council will let a contract for a builder, with the aim of starting this autumn and completing in spring 2019. There will be 45 rooms in the facility, with communal areas, laundry and meeting space. Families will be able to have rooms together. There will be an enclosed garden.

Management

There will be fully qualified staff on site 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. All areas inside and out are monitored by staff throughout the day and night.

Occupants sign a Licence Agreement before being admitted and are required to adhere to the conditions. Staff will intervene where necessary to minimise inappropriate behaviour and will put measures in place to help address potential issues. Any household who breaches the licence, including noise and anti-social behaviour, is at risk of the Council withdrawing their accommodation.

The Council usually provides local residents with a contact number for a duty officer for matters that require immediate attention.

Community Engagement Event

A drop-in session for residents regarding the new temporary housing unit took place on Thursday 13th September at Ransomes Sports Pavillion between 2pm and 8pm

This was an opportunity for residents to see the plans for the building work and ongoing management, as well as meet staff who will be running the facility. 

FAQs

Will residents pay rent?

Yes, all residents will be charged rent

How is the planting screen at the front of the site going to look?

The front elevation (west side) is already heavily screened and the hedging will be better maintained and the three mature chestnut trees left in place. The gap on the Sidegate Lane/ Orkney Road junction will be addressed in the landscape plan.

Elsewhere, some additional planting will be provided on the eastern and southern boundaries to break up the elevations.

Subject to planning permission, fencing around the bin store will be increased to match the height of the bin store.

Fencing to the perimeter of site will be replaced by close board panels. This mainly concerns the northern boundary on to Orkney Road and the eastern and southern boundaries on to the Shetland Close flats and street properties. The northern side fence will be at least two metres high but we will consider extending this height subject to planning permission.

Which types of residents will live in the southern wing?

The southern wing is more likely to contain single households so they don’t have to disturb family areas in the other wings but ‘who lives where’ depends on demand and availability.

Can the fire escape have obscured glass?

No. The end stairwell to the southern block is only used as a fire escape and the doors will only be unlocked if there is a fire so there would be no benefit to nearby residents if obscured glass was fitted.

Will there be additional CCTV?

Feedback from Suffolk Police and neighbouring residents who attended the session is that external CCTV on the scheme would be beneficial. This CCTV needs to strike a balance between reassuring residents but not invading privacy. As such, it will be angled in towards the scheme so as to not overlook adjoining properties. The Council will continue to review the need for off-site CCTV but there has not been a need in our West Villa unit.

Will access be blocked at the back of the site?

Yes. There will be no access on or off the site apart from the front entrance.

Can the street lights be put back on?

The lighting in and around the building will be on all through the night but street lighting is the responsibility of Suffolk County Council. They usually consider switching them on during the night only on the advice of the Police.

Is there a curfew for residents?

No. However, visitors will be required to leave the premises by 11pm and the doors will be locked at that time. Residents returning after that time will be required to inform staff.

Can there be permit parking due to increased levels of cars because of the unit?

There are a number of spaces available at the unit and if they are full residents will be asked to park legally on the highway like anyone else visiting the area.

How have the costs of the unit increased following the initial reported costs?

An allocation was included in the Council’s budget at a very early stage during the purchase phase of the property to fit with the Council’s budget-setting timetable. This was a best estimate before detailed internal surveys and specification had been completed. This original budget was then amended to reflect the actual cost of the most economically advantageous tender, when it was known. Currently, construction costs are increasing nationally. Extra funds were needed because:

  • the final plan creates more rooms than the initial estimate, so there is more building work to do
  • the planning approval required extra spend
  • Building regulations for this type of building are now stricter

Can homeless families from outside Ipswich be housed here?

The Council does not accommodate homeless households from outside its area in its Council-run accommodation. 

Would any single homeless people be housed in the facility?

Council staff will work closely with other agencies, including the Police’s Public Protection Unit, who have access to the sex offenders register, to ensure that no-one who poses a threat to children is accommodated at the Sidegate Lane facility.

The Sidegate Lane unit will be staffed 24/7, 365 days a year and there will also be CCTV on site. At least two staff will be on site at all times.

Why is such a big site being planned?

The number of homeless households continues to grow. The number of homeless households in Ipswich has grown by over 50% since 2011, due to the effects of austerity.

The Homelessness Reduction Act, introduced by the Government in April 2018, places extra requirements on Councils.  In Ipswich, the number of homeless households in April was 55, in August the figure was up to 69.

The Council’s other main facility provides 37 bedrooms in self-contained accommodation.

Why was the location and full details of the project kept secret from the public/local residents for so long?  

The Council followed the correct planning procedures as regards consultation with local residents.

Have homeless charities been consulted on the Council's homeless strategy? Why can't this site be developed to provide council houses for families, rather than a large, institutionalised homeless unit?

The Council’s Housing Strategy incorporates the Homelessness Strategy and this was fully consulted on prior to its adoption in November 2017.

One of the root causes of the rise in homelessness is the lack of truly affordable housing, which is something the Council is trying to address through its ambition to build 1,000 council houses in 10 years. However, in the meantime there is a pressing need for the Council to provide temporary accommodation for homeless households and this site offers an excellent opportunity to do that.  

Why is Ipswich allowing other councils to put their homeless in our B&Bs which in turn puts more pressure on the rooms available for the Ipswich homeless? Do the other councils pay Ipswich Borough Council for this?

The B&Bs are privately operated businesses and the Council has no control over who they choose to accommodate. The only duty other Councils have is to notify the Borough Council when they place someone in our area. Councils placing their applicants in B&Bs obviously have to pay for the accommodation but they do not have to pay this Council anything.

 

Contact Details

Ipswich Borough Council,
Housing Policy & Strategy,
3E Grafton House,
15-17 Russell Road,
Ipswich,
IP1 2DE

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01473 432000