Cabinet members at Thanet council are expected to approve the purchase of Foy House in Margate High Street to convert and provide eight flats for homeless isle residents.
The council agreed a £1.63million budget for homelessness accommodation in February.
The property was formerly owned by Orbit Housing but was declared surplus to need in 2017, In February 2019 Orbit left the building. It has permission for change of use from office to residential. The aim is to provide six, 2-bed flats and two, 1-bed flats.
Thanet council estimates a scheme to buy and convert the property would cost £1.2million with some £500,000 of that used to buy the site. A further £400,000 will be held as ‘contingency’ money.
The building does not have a listed building status but is in the conservation area. An independent valuation was commissioned which provided a range from £505,000 for existing use to £620,000 for a residential development.
Thanet council say the price has been negotiated with the owner, taking into account build costs and class uses.
The £1.2million total would equal £150,000 cost per unit.
An officer’s report to councillors says: “Tak(ing) no action would mean that the building would remain empty and potentially create a blight on the High Street. If sold on the open market, the council’s lack of control over the use and management potentially allows for a poorly designed scheme under permitted rights and a sub-standard accommodation offer in the district.
“An agreed lease is not considered to provide best value and would not secure the property in perpetuity.
“The completion of the recommended transaction will ensure that the building can be safeguarded and will enable a thorough options appraisal to be completed to bring the building back into use. The project will be managed by the council and it is proposed the council appoints a multidisciplinary team to design and manage the conversion.
“The construction duration is projected to be 12 months, subject to any planning approvals required for the final approved option and design.”
The purchase will be discussed at a meeting at the council’s Margate offices at 7pm on September 19.
There are approximately 2,645 households registered on Thanet’s housing waiting list and some 111 placed in temporary accommodation.
Thanet council is tackling the issue with its own scheme of building or refurbishing 150 homes by 2020 at a cost of £30million.
A bid to government to fund a further 35 new homes at the cost of £8.8million has also been made.
Some £14million has been spent on housing schemes across Thanet. These projects include new build programme, Margate Housing Intervention project, Empty Homes Project 2012-15, and King Street intervention.
Investment has been £7,258,330 in Ramsgate, £1,377,202 in Broadstairs and £6,048,514 Margate.