Plans for residential scheme for homeless on car park site approved

Plans to build a block of short-term accommodation for the homeless on the site of an underused car park have been unanimously approved by Wyre Forest District Council.

The council says the residential block on New Street in Kidderminster will enable it to reduce its use of bed and breakfast and hotel accommodation which is an expensive form of temporary accommodation.

In 2021, the council appointed public sector property experts PSP to investigate the feasibility of the scheme and to handle the planning processes.

The approved plans will lead to the creation of 20 new en-suite apartments, including seven double bedroom flats, seven single bedrooms flats and six flats for disabled people.

Cllr Nicky Martin, Wyre Forest District Council’s cabinet member for housing, health, wellbeing and democratic services, said: “We are excited to be progressing with this new development and are grateful to PSP for helping us to design this high-quality solution. Delivering new accommodation supports the council’s strategic action ‘to increase affordable housing’. It will help people affected by homelessness return to a life of self-sustaining independence including obtaining or maintaining employment, progressing with education or training, and reconnecting with family, friends and the community.”

Mark Davis, partnerships director at PSP, said: “Councils across England are having to cope with increasing numbers of people affected by homelessness. In 2020/21 councils across England spent £188m of their funding tackling this issue – a 605% increase on the £26.7 million they spent in 2010/11.

“At the same time many councils have underused assets such as car parks and offices which can be developed or converted to deliver new, high-quality housing for people affected by homelessness. Research conducted by Knight Frank in 2020 found that developing just 15% of public sector-owned car parks could unlock the construction of 110,000 new homes. By delivering housing on underused assets councils can help alleviate homelessness and assist people and their families to get back to living more productive and more fulfilling lives more quickly.”

Building work for the accommodation scheme is expected to start in late 2022 and the project is scheduled to be completed in autumn 2023.