Planning approval granted for six ‘micro-homes’ in Penryn as Council continues to tackle housing crisis

Example of a SoloHaus home

Plans to provide six SoloHaus modular homes on part of Commercial Road car park in Penryn for people who are ready to move on from emergency accommodation were given the go ahead by the central planning committee at their meeting this week.   

The homes at Commercial Road, Penryn is the second SoloHaus scheme to successfully go through the planning process and will provide purpose-built modular homes with outside space, utilising low carbon heating technologies.  

“We are taking direct action to tackle the serious and escalating housing crisis facing us in Cornwall by providing homes for people that need our help” said the council’s portfolio holder for housing Olly Monk. “These modular SoloHaus homes provide excellent quality, value for money, “move on” housing for single people who would otherwise be homeless, who are currently being put up in expensive temporary or emergency accommodation at a cost of around £40,000 a day. By building these homes, we are helping these residents live nearer to where they want to be and with the security of knowing the home is theirs until they find a permanent home”. 

Tackling current housing pressures is a top priority for the Council.  The impact of the Covid pandemic, the reduction in the number of privately rented homes, in part put down to increased demand for holiday accommodation, rising rental costs and the recent general property boom have created a ‘perfect storm’ in the local housing market.   

“We all need and deserve somewhere to live and call home,” said Olly Monk, the council’s portfolio holder for planning and housing.  “The lack of affordable accommodation is affecting all types of households, including working families, couples and single people. Many people are struggling to find somewhere to live, with a sharp increase in the number of single people rough sleeping or sleeping in cars and vans.” 

There are currently over 700 households living in temporary or emergency accommodation across Cornwall, with more than 330 single people in need of housing. People can find themselves homeless for many reasons, including family or relationship breakdown, fleeing domestic violence, eviction from a privately rented home (including ‘no fault’ evictions), loss of income/employment, bereavement, significant changes to mental or physical health, or struggling to cope with life outside the armed forces.  

Last year, in a landmark deal with the Hill Group, Cornwall Council bought 79 modular SoloHaus self-contained one-bedroom homes to provide safe and secure homes for people in urgent housing need.  Designed with the help of leading homelessness charities, SoloHaus properties are single-storey fully self-contained modular homes with kitchen, living and dining area, bedroom and bathroom and arrive fully furnished, with everything necessary for someone to move into the same day, right down to knives, forks and bedlinen. 

Work is currently taking place to complete the first Council Solohaus housing scheme at Old County Hall in Truro, and to deliver a further 10 modular homes at the former Cowlins Mill in Pool.  There are also planning applications submitted for sites in Newquay and Penzance.   

Presenting the Penryn scheme to members of Central Planning Committee, Sam Irving, Cornwall Council’s Head of Housing Delivery & Regeneration said: “The proposal makes best use of this publicly owned asset and will strike a balance between maintaining a sufficient number of car parking spaces, whilst simultaneously supporting those in urgent housing need.” 

The Commercial Road scheme construction is expected to begin in early 2023, with the first residents due to move in during the summer.  

The site will be managed by Cornwall Housing Ltd. a specialist housing provider who will be responsible for repairs and maintenance of the accommodation and grounds to ensure the site remains an attractive and comfortable space for residents to live. 

With potential residents already a good way through their journey to settled housing, they will have low or no support needs.  Each tenant will receive help to find a regular source of income and a more permanent home.  24/7 security will also be provided for at least the first 12 months. 

Councillor Monk added: “I would like to thank the local Cornwall Councillor and local residents for working with us to develop this scheme and look forward to welcoming the first residents into their new homes next year”. 

As well as providing modular homes to provide temporary and emergency accommodation, the Council is also continuing work to:    

  • Buy existing homes to use as social housing    
  • Build 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. 

Story posted 25 November 2022

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