On Friday 12 October, Councillor Roy Whitehead, Leader of Chelmsford City Council, and Councillor Paul Hutchinson, Cabinet Member for Strategic Housing, were joined by Vicky Ford MP to visit the new development of 'modular' temporary accommodation on Beeches Road, Chelmsford.
One of the first in the country, the site is expected to help many families and individuals who become homeless. Built to provide short-term accommodation for people until permanent homes can be found, the development is made up of specialist one- and two-bed units. The units are expected to last for 60 years.
Each unit is fully linked to utilities and contains one or two furnished bedrooms, living room, shower room or bathroom, and kitchen. Factory-assembled before installation onsite, they provide all the mod-cons associated with day-to-day living. Work completed in mid-September and the first tenants have now moved into the scheme.
The housing has been designed to be cost-effective, meaning that the Council can provide more quality accommodation to people in urgent need than it could through the more expensive method of renting additional houses and B&B rooms. This means that more people who need somewhere to stay immediately can be helped.
Councillor Paul Hutchinson, Cabinet Member for Housing, said, "Anyone reading the news will be aware that homelessness is on the rise all over the country. It's awful to find yourself suddenly cast into uncertainty, but these units provide people with a safe, stable, secure place to stay for a while until permanent solutions can be found for their situations. They allow residents to stay in their local area, close to the comfort and practical support of their family, friends, workplaces and schools, during a very unsettling time."
A second site on Fox Crescent is almost complete, providing 18 new accommodation units overall. The two sites have experienced some delays, with completion originally expected last year. Councillor Hutchinson said, "Chelmsford is one of the very first authorities in the UK to use modular accommodation, and the project has had a couple of hitches due to unforeseeable issues connecting the units to utilities, particularly the mains water supply. We have reviewed these difficulties and the lessons learnt will be used in planning future temporary accommodation schemes - overall, I would certainly recommend the use of modular units to any other local authorities seeking a way to help local people in need."
Every year, Chelmsford City Council's Housing Service prevents around 300 people from becoming homeless. If you are threatened with homelessness, the Council urges you to get in touch as early as possible to discuss your situation and seek help. To find out more and contact a Housing Advisor, please visit www.chelmsford.gov.uk/housing.
Thursday 18 October 2018