Work on transforming a former Cornwall Council office building in the centre of Truro to provide short term accommodation for people who have been sleeping rough, or are at risk of doing so, has been completed, with the first residents moving in.
Chough House on River Street has been converted into Cornwall’s first purpose designed ‘Somewhere Safe to Stay Hub’, providing people who find themselves without a home or are at risk of street homelessness with a safe, warm place to stay. It replaces the ‘roving’ Somewhere Safe to Stay hub that previously operated in Cornwall.
Designed as a short stay facility for people who are new to the streets, residents are expected to remain at Chough House for between 3 and 10 days while they have their housing and other needs assessed, before moving on to more longer-term accommodation.
Olly Monk, Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio for housing and planning, said:
“This is a fantastic project which will play a key role in reducing homelessness.
“Not only will it provide people who have been sleeping rough with a safe place to stay and support them on their path to permanent accommodation, it will also bring a vacant building back into a meaningful use for the local community.
“Now that the project is completed, the building ready to accommodate its first residents.“
The hub provides nine single-occupancy rooms over two floors, each containing an en-suite bathroom and kitchenette. One of the ground floor rooms is fully wheelchair accessible.
There are also communal lounges and kitchens, which can be converted into extra emergency bed spaces at times of urgent need such as severe weather, together with laundry facilities, meeting rooms and management space for staff to provide support and security 24/7.
The building has a new efficient air-source heating plant providing heating and hot water, with solar panels installed on the roof.
Supporting residents at Chough House will be Interim Hub Manager Shirley Hilton and a team of six members of staff. Shirley said:
“People will be referred to Chough House from across Cornwall through our rough sleeper access team.
“We know that people can suddenly find themselves homeless for a variety of reasons. Our aim is to get them off the streets as quickly as possible so they can move on with their lives and do not become entrenched rough sleepers.
“All our staff are fully trained in housing legislation and managing trauma and will be working with colleagues and partners to identify residents’ individual needs and help them to get their lives back on track.”
Originally home to a Congregational Chapel in the mid-18th century, the building was rebuilt in 1853 to include a large school room. The chapel and school room were then sold in 1932, with the land used as council offices until the 1970s/80s, before demolition took place and the current building was erected.
Work on converting Chough House was carried out by Corserv Facilities Ltd.
Olly Monk said:
“Delivering this project has been a real team effort.
“I would like to thank Truro City Council, the local members that have supported the project and other community stakeholders that have had a role in bringing this forward, as well as all the Cornwall Council staff who have worked so hard to complete the transformation.”
Tackling current housing pressures is a top priority for the Council.
As well as delivering schemes such as this, the authority is also working 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
- Build significantly more Council houses for local people to rent or buy
- Buy existing homes to use as social housing
- 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.