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Somewhere Safe to Stay Hub takes shape as renovation of former Council office progresses

Large building surrounded by scaffolding

Work on transforming a former Cornwall Council office building in the centre of Truro to provide homeless accommodation for people who have been sleeping rough or are at risk of doing so is progressing well, with the first residents expected to move in by the end of the summer.

Chough House on River Street is being converted into a purpose-designed ‘Somewhere Safe to Stay Hub’ that will provide local people who find themselves without a home or are at risk of street homelessness with a safe, warm place to stay. It will replace the ‘roving’ Somewhere Safe to Stay hub that previously operated in Cornwall.

Work on converting the building, which is being carried out by Corserv Facilities Ltd, began in June 2021. Once completed, Chough House will provide nine single-occupancy rooms over two floors, each containing an en-suite bathroom and kitchenette. One of the ground floor rooms will be fully wheelchair- accessible.

There will also be communal lounges and kitchens, which can be converted into extra emergency bed spaces at times of urgent need, together with laundry facilities, meeting rooms and management space for staff to provide support and security 24/7. 

Visiting the site, Olly Monk, the Council’s portfolio holder for housing and planning, said: “This is a fantastic scheme 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. 

“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 are working so hard to complete the transformation.”

The building will have a new efficient air-source heating plant providing heating and hot water, and provision has also been made for the future installation of solar panels on the roof.  

There was a Congregational Chapel on the site from the mid-18th century, which was rebuilt in 1853 to include a large school room. The chapel and school room were sold in 1932 and used as council offices until the 1970s/80s, before demolition took place and the current building was erected. 

“Tackling current housing pressures is a top priority for the Council,” said Olly Monk. “We are working very hard to provide safe and secure places to stay for those in urgent need, ending the use of short-term hotel and B&B accommodation.

“Providing the temporary Bunkabins in Truro has given us the time needed to bring forward this high quality permanent scheme. Along with other initiatives such as our landmark Solohaus modular homes schemes, buying existing homes to use as social housing and building more Council houses for local people to rent or buy, this project shows what we are doing to provide more homes for local people and help the most vulnerable in our society.”  

Other Council initiatives include:

  • Supporting the provision of affordable homes by housing associations for local people to rent or buy      
  • Ensuring sites deliver affordable housing through the planning process     
  • Unlocking the potential for town centres to be regenerated to provide more housing     
  • Supporting community-led organisations that want to deliver their own homes     
  • Offering loans to bring empty homes back into use 
  • Enabling communities to stop new builds being snapped up by would be second homeowners.

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