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South Holland District Council vote against a proposal to buy a third property to house rough sleepers

Councillors have voted against recommending a proposal to purchase a third property to house rough sleepers over concerns that it was unsuitable.

During a special meeting of the South Holland District Council Performance Monitoring Panel on Tuesday, councillors heard that two property purchases were ongoing and that a third property had been identified.

However, a number of concerns were raised surrounding the potential third purchase which councillors felt does not meet the stipulated criteria as set out by strategic housing manager Caroline Hannon. She said that officers had considered 68 properties, viewing 29 before deciding on a property in Spalding which would require some refurbishment and building works.

Bromley Hall, Pode Hole, Western Relief Road meetingCouncillors Elizabeth Sneath, Angela Newton, Richard Davies (7333285)
Bromley Hall, Pode Hole, Western Relief Road meetingCouncillors Elizabeth Sneath, Angela Newton, Richard Davies (7333285)

Coun Angela Newton of Spalding Monkshouse Ward, where the proposed three bedroom house is situated said: “There was talk that ward members were consulted but I don’t really think we were.

“When Coun Cronin and I were spoken to we were more or less told that it had been decided.

“The paperwork says ‘ensure enough parking for residents’ but this actual property doesn’t meet that requirement.

“That property doesn’t have enough parking for residents, it has less than sufficient for three vehicles.

“I believe it’s in an area where we’ve got some parking issues at the moment.

“In addition to that, the paperwork identifying the costs to make this property good or fit to use for three people are nearly half as much again as the cost of the property.

“You’ve shown us what you think the value of this property would be when it’s done up and it comes to a figure that you’re never going to get a property like that worth that figure.

“To me it’s not good value for the authority.

“We will end up with quite a small property, which will have costs of quite a huge amount. I feel it’s not right and it’s not giving us good value for money.”

The properties, which are to be funded by a grant of £400,000 from Homes England, will be converted and used to provide nine units of accommodation as part of The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) Next Steps scheme, which aims to end rough sleeping “for good”.

However, councillors also aired further concerns surrounding time scales set out by MHCLG and the possibility of the grant money being unavailable if the deadline of completing the purchases by March 31.

In response, Ms Hannon informed councillors that there is an ongoing dialogue with both Homes England and MHCLG and that there are alternative fallbacks which could be looked at.

She said: “We are proposing to seek to agree that we can be in a position to have acquired property one and two by March 3, even if the occupation follows thereafter.

“If we have secured and got approval to proceed with a third property that potentially puts us in a stronger position to negotiate the time scales for the delivery of that third property with a view to trying to keep the grant in the district.” The panel voted in favour of Coun Michael Booth’s proposal that the panel recommended the council do not purchase the property but consider purchasing a more suitable property.

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