February 24, 2024

South West News

South West News from Gloucestershire to Cornwall

Council efforts to tackle housing crisis continue as empty Newquay property transformed into flats

Five people who have been homeless or living in temporary or emergency accommodation in or around the Newquay area will be moving into one-bedroom flats in the town during the next few weeks – thanks to a scheme to refurbish redundant Cornwall Council owned properties to provide homes for local people in urgent housing need.

Rear view of a house with windows and an outbuilding

The authority’s housing delivery and development service have completely transformed a Council owned house in Trevose Avenue in Newquay to provide the five new self-contained flats.

The refurbishment scheme is part of the Council’s wider programme to provide homes for people who are ready to ‘move on’ from emergency accommodation to the second stage of their journey out of homelessness and rough sleeping. Work on refurbishing other redundant Council owned properties will be taking place across Cornwall in the coming months.

Councillor Olly Monk stands in front of a house

Councillor Olly Monk, portfolio holder for housing and planning, said: “Housing is Cornwall Council’s number one priority. We are working very hard to increase the amount of Council owned accommodation to help local people who need somewhere safe and secure to live by buying existing properties, refurbishing redundant properties we already own and providing modular homes.

“This project is a fantastic example of how we can recycle, refurbish or rebuild redundant Council properties and bring them back to a useful future. The refurnished property will provide really good quality, secure, modern accommodation for people who have previously been in our temporary or emergency accommodation and I can’t wait to welcome the first tenants to their new homes”.

The refurbishment, which was overseen by the authority’s Home Solutions service and carried out by local contractor PHCC, has included installing new water, electrical and fire safety systems, together with new doors and windows, upgrading the insulation, and carrying out extensive repairs to the roof.

The flats, which have their own kitchen, lounge / diner, bedroom and en suite shower room, will be managed and maintained by Cornwall Housing Ltd, with Harbour Housing providing support to help tenants to sustain their tenancies and find a regular source of income.

All the tenants will be from the local area and have previously been in temporary or emergency accommodation. They will be able to stay in the flats for up to three years after which time they will be expected to move into more permanent accommodation.

Tackling current housing pressures is a top priority for the Council. There are currently over 650 households either rough sleeping or living in temporary accommodation in Cornwall. This includes many in unsatisfactory and unsustainable emergency provision such as B&Bs and hotels.

The Council has set up specialist teams to help tackle the housing crisis, including the housing delivery and development service and the temporary accommodation and initiatives service.

“We know that we have got a huge housing problem in Cornwall “ said Olly Monk. “As well as the impact of escalating house prices on local people’s ability to buy property in the areas they want to live, during the past 12 months we have seen lots of our residents being evicted from their rented homes as landlords either sell up or turn their properties in holiday accommodation.

“While we have been working very hard to address this housing crisis, we need to build on what we are doing. We are ramping up our response as quickly as possible to provide more Council owned accommodation to support local people in housing need.”

As well as refurbishing Council owned redundant properties, the authority is continuing to work hard to:  

  • Provide modular homes to provide temporary and emergency accommodation so local people can be housed without worrying about being asked to leave at a moment’s notice
  • Buy existing homes to use as social housing
  • Build significantly more Council houses  for local people to rent or buy 
  • Support the provision of affordable homes by housing associations for local people to rent or buy     
  • Ensure sites deliver affordable housing through the planning process    
  • Unlock the potential for town centres to be regenerated to provide more housing    
  • Support community-led organisations that want to deliver their own homes    
  • Offer loans to bring empty homes back into use
  • Enable communities to stop new builds being snapped up by would be second homeowners.

While the ‘first stage’ schemes introduced by the Council, such as the Bunkabins, have been very successful in helping a large number of people off the streets, there is now a considerable housing need for move-on accommodation in Cornwall.

Other Cornwall Council led “move on“ schemes currently underway include the purchase and refurbishment of up to 60 existing one bedroom flats and houses over the coming 12 months through the authority’s Next Steps Accommodation Programme , and delivering the first phase of its landmark SoloHaus project which will see 79 self contained ‘micro homes’ provided on sites across Cornwall.

The first 11 “next steps” properties bought by the Council on the open market have been refurbished and are being handed over to Cornwall Housing who will arrange for the tenants to move in, with tenants expected to move into the first 15 SoloHaus micro homes on the Council owned site at Old County Hall at the beginning of July. Other SoloHaus sites are being planned for Penryn, Penzance and Newquay, with further sites following in other parts of Cornwall over the coming months.