Council transforming disused properties into temporary accommodation

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Disused properties are being brought back into use by Cornwall Council to provide safe places to stay for people without a permanent home. 

As work continues at pace to tackle the housing pressures faced by Cornwall, the projects will provide urgently needed accommodation, in turn giving time to roll out the longer-term plan to rapidly increase the number of homes available for local people. 

In Penzance, the Council has purchased a large disused cottage, which has been converted into a self-contained home for four people and will soon be occupied by its first residents. 

The kitchen at the completed Penzance project

Local contractors have been used wherever possible and in Penzance the refurbishment works were carried out by PH Construction and Consultancy. 

In Newquay, a vacant Council-owned building is in the process of being brought back to life. This building will provide good quality accommodation for a further five people. 

The Council has also bought a property in Penryn and is planning a large-scale refurbishment over the autumn to provide accommodation for 12 people, in six purpose-designed shared flats. 

The Council is also looking for more large properties for refurbishment or conversion. 

To meet a different aspect of local need, the purchase of one-bedroom flats, houses and bungalows is now also well underway.

One of the bedrooms at the completed Penzance project

To date, 12 properties have been bought, with another 21 in the conveyancing process.  Overall, the Council hopes to have bought around 60 homes throughout the Duchy by mid-2022 to help single homeless residents access medium-term accommodation at an affordable rate. 

Olly Monk, the Council’s portfolio holder for housing and planning, said: “It is our aim to end the use of short-term, expensive, hotel and B&B accommodation, which offers no security in terms of length of stay. These projects will provide a secure, comfortable and independent home for people. 

“We have other properties in the pipeline for a similar purpose. This Council has made a commitment to do as much as it can to ensure local people have access to good quality homes at prices they can afford and from a landlord they can trust.” 

The communal area at the completed Penzance project

The Council is working to address housing pressures in a variety of ways, such as expanding the temporary single-berth cabin schemes, with units being set up at New County Hall in Truro and Rosewarne car park in Camborne, on top of existing sites in Truro and Penzance that were put in place at the start of the pandemic. 

A landmark modular homes project is also under way at Cowlins Mill, Pool, as well as the new Somewhere Safe to Stay Hub in Truro. 

The Council also continues to work to: 

  • Buy homes for social housing 
  • Build more Council houses as well as affordable homes for local people to rent or buy 
  • 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 

Story posted on September 20, 2021

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