Council plans to create further temporary accommodation on heels of completed Foy House project

Foy House (Image Modis Construction)

Thanet council has completed works at Foy House in Margate to provide temporary accommodation with eight one and two bedroom flats. The scheme, including building purchase and conversion,  came in at £1.6m and will have operating costs for  housing management and support service, repairs and maintenance and other associated costs of around £25-30,000 per year.

The newly refurbished flats will provide temporary accommodation for people and families with urgent housing needs, who are being supported by the council. Immediate needs can occur for a variety of reasons, such as fleeing domestic abuse, marital breakdown, losing a job or being unable to pay rent. The project aims to provide a safe and supported home until new accommodation can be found.

Cllr Jill Bayford, Cabinet Member for Housing at Thanet District Council said: “I am delighted that this project is now complete. Keeping our residents safe is a key priority for the council, and supporting those who don’t have secure accommodation is just one part of our overall strategy to support the housing needs of local residents.

“More than this, the redevelopment of Foy House will breathe new life into a once derelict building and further support the regeneration of Margate High Street.”

The project was first approved in 2019 by the then-Labour administration. The property was formerly owned by Orbit Housing but was declared surplus to need in 2017.

Further temporary accommodation plans

Thanet council is aiming to expand its temporary accommodation by taking on a second project with £2.22m earmarked  to buy another building or land or new build property.

In a report to Thanet council Cabinet members, it says: “It was always considered, as part of the business case for this project, that further projects would increase the potential savings, as a larger portfolio of accommodation would be able to share some costs, such as, for example, a project manager.

“Further projects would also continue to improve the outcomes for homeless households as they would enhance the supply of temporary accommodation within the district.

“On this basis a further business case was prepared for a phase 2 project, and £2.22m was included within the draft 2023/25 general fund capital programme for an additional temporary accommodation scheme.

“Spread over two financial years the funding will enable the purchase of an additional building or land for conversion or new build construction of phase 2. Included within this funding is the 2023/24 allocation of New Home Bonus, totalling £415k.”

Thanet council’s draft budget for 2023-24, due to be approved at Full Council in February, also includes £800k in the temporary accommodation budget, together with a further £100k from the homelessness reserve.

The report says: “This funding is the result of growing pressures on homelessness services, both locally and nationally, and will support the revenue costs of temporary accommodation. In addition to the additional units delivered through the capital programme above, officers will consider options to lease or rent accommodation where it is cost effective to do so.”

The information will be discussed by council Cabinet members at a meeting on January 26. It has been published in a report to members in response to a ‘motion’ tabled by Labour’s Helen Whitehead last October outlining the need for further temporary housing units immediately.

Cllr Whitehead also previously suggested using New Homes Bonus funding from government for emergency accommodation. This use of the funding is now included in the draft 2023-24 council budget.

She said: “I’m incredibly happy that Foy House is finally completed and the in house temporary accommodation that we fought so hard for as an administration is established.

“ I am also very glad that my proposal of using the New Homes Bonus to purchase further temporary accommodation has been adopted this year; although adoption of the proposal last year, rather than rejection, would have allowed us to do far more, as both time and funding have to be prioritised in order to ensure that we can keep all residents requiring temporary accommodation in Thanet, and close to their support networks.

“Continuing investment in our in house temporary housing is an absolute priority; ensuring that we can keep residents near families, schools and jobs while we find long term accommodation is essential.”

The former student accommodation at the ex-campus in Broadstairs

Last November Conservative council leader Ash Ashbee revealed plans to use the former student accommodation at the ex-uni campus in  Broadstairs for emergency accommodation.

Cllr Ashbee said the council had been working to secure the premises, on the former Canterbury Christ Church University Thanet campus,  for emergency accommodation.

At that time she said  the council was close to being able to put in a “complete offer” for the site, adding: “The accommodation is set out into single rooms and would not have been suitable for families unless we did some work. We didn’t want to take it on as single rooms and had a design to try and provide between 16-20 units suitable for families.”

Phase 3 homes in King Street

Thanet council is also carrying out phase 4 of its build, buy and refurbish programme to provide social homes in the district with an £8.8million projected spend for up to 36 homes.

The programme is paid for through the council’s housing revenue account, right-to-buy proceeds and funding from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). Phase 3 provided new build council homes in King Street and Sussex Street, Ramsgate.

Thanet council plans to increase the number of new build council homes in the latest phase from 36 to 61 and will fund it by transferring £8.1 million earmarked for phase 5 to the current build as well as increasing the budget for 2024/25 by £0.2m.

Phase 4 of the affordable housing development programme covers the 2020-24 financial years. It includes the purchase of 14 properties which has already been completed at a cost of £3.4million.

Twenty-two new homes were due to be started on site in March 2023 and this will now be increased to 47 homes. The council plans for some of the units to be infill sites on existing estates including, Staner Court and Clements Road.

Thanet council has also bought the former Dane Valley Arms site in Millmead which, the authority says, has capacity for 20 homes and there are detailed design proposals for infill sites in and around Tomlin Drive, where garages are being brought down to make way for between 9-11 homes.

It is anticipated that a planning applications for Tomlin Drive, Staner Court and Clements Road will be submitted in the coming months, following consultation with neighbouring communities.

Since 2015 a total of 313 affordable homes have been provided by the council and its Housing Association partners. However, there is an identified need for 548 affordable homes in Thanet to be created per year. The council says new initiatives to increase the supply of new affordable homes are needed. The homes are council/social housing for those on the housing waiting list.

Housing waiting list

There are 1804 households on the housing waiting list in Thanet. The most recent rough sleeper count recorded 11 people on the streets and 45 people receiving assistance from the RISE homelessness team. Some 199 households are in temporary accommodation.

Thanet council receives around 1,000 homelessness applications each year. The council is landlord of 3034 properties but demand outstrips supply.

Get advice

Shelter England

Citizens Advice

Thanet council Housing Team 01843 577277

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    • Peter it’s not like there’s going to be a huge sign advertising the circumstances of the tenants. I hope that you never have to fall on hard times to require the service.

      Well done to the Labour cllrs who kick started this.

    • Why beyond belief Peter?

      We have families and individuals spanning all demographics needing temporary housing currently due to the financial crisis; we have families with mortgages losing their homes, we have individuals and families being issued with no fault evictions simply because landlords want/need to sell, and the lack of local accommodation (again due to rent and property inflation) means that having temporary accommodation for those households is entirely necessary.

      Airbnb is also temporary and short term accommodation; if the entire block was purchased and used for airbnb, it would still be temporary accommodation; it just wouldn’t be providing essential housing.

      • What about 19 Hawley Square boarded up and left to become derelict for decades Helen? Why isn’t TDC doing it up to give people somewhere to live? There are disabled young people in Thanet sofa surfing that have nowhere else to go and being told by the housing team they will have to wait 3 years to become eligible for a home.

        • Turn the hotel into a homeless shelter! I remember another time when the Tory’s wrecked the economy in the late 80’s, and early 90’s and people could no longer pay their mortgages (thank you M. Thatcher for inflation at nearly 10%!). Someone I knew had a thriving kitchen, and bathroom business employing 6 to 8 people, and went bust. He and his wife ended up in some sort of emergency accommodation, but their 4 kids were taken into Care! I don’t think things have improved since, have they, we still have a Tory government wrecking the economy!

  1. Real world, it would cost the council far more to place people out of the area as there are hardly any landlords willing to lease homes to the council in Thanet. Purchasing their own property is cheaper in the long term and means less disturbance to kids who need to stay in the area for school and those in work (remember not all homeless are unemployed). Until this farce of a government put in better rent protections like those in other countries enjoy, then the number of homeless people is going to continue.

    • Why do you think that rent should be protected from economic/ legislative realities when in the absence of government subsidy nothing else is? The rest of lifes basics have rocketed in life, why would rents not do the same?
      Genuine question for which i’d appreciate an answer.

  2. Was the 1.6 million the total cost ?Or just the conversion cost? If the latter what did the building cost when it was purchased from Orbit?
    I’ll have a wild punt and suggest that the 2.2 million may well be spent buying flats for which a planning application was recently made.

  3. Landlords may be leaving the slum business en masse, but they will to sell to someone with the means.

    It won’t be UC claimants – it will be to private buyers. This should help gentrification a little more.

    Why should Sandbanks take all the credit?

  4. I have said it before, but I genuinely think that Peter Checksfield should be blocked from commenting on this site. His views are almost always abhorrent; and he is constantly looking for a fight on every single subject matter. Kathy Bailes – what is your view on this?

    • TDC’s priority, after basic services like street cleaning, public loos and entertainment venues – ALL ignored, should be to encourage people to come here. The Sands has been Margate’s biggest public-funded success story of recent years, but once the trip advisor revues start mentioning the homeless hostel opposite that can and will very quickly change. I KNOW this, as I stay in expensive hotels very occasionally, Do you? I’ve already said it’s actually a good idea, just not in Kent’s most struggling High Street.

      As for your opinion on me, that’s as valid as my opinion on the subject in hand. I respect that, please learn to do the same. That said, debating why you think I’m wrong would be a far more worthwhile comment. Calm down, and give it a try. I know you’re an intelligent lad.

    • Andy: Censorship is never a good look in you pretend you live in the free world. Look how much damage it’s done in the last fear years, and now the inconvenient truth is coming out everywhere – including Davos.

    • Mr Gordon – He has a different opinion/view to you, so he should be banned? Please grow up and accept freedom of speech. Not everyone is left leaning wanting people with differing views shouted down or banned.

  5. I agree to blocking that Checksfield abhorrent person. He is such a miserable depressive person himself that he needs to make everyone else around him depressed.

    • I think Kathy has her hands full. The recent thread about Manston, for example, attracted over 170 responses; some were interesting discussion points, many were banal trolls, a few were quite unpleasant.
      In the days when newspapers were paper, people would write “letters to the editor”. I would guess that of every 100 hitting the editor’s desk, 99 went in the bin.
      Unless Kathy institutes proactive moderation, then this web-based news platform will be deluged with all sorts of stuff. Some of it reasonable comment, a lot of it rubbish, and a smattering of fake and false news, racist and xenophobic coments and pseudoscience and quackery.
      If you spot that certain posters’ offerings offend you, just scroll on past (don’t feed the trolls). If someone’s posted something that you think is illegal, email Kathy and tell her so.
      On this thread someone commented about “freedom of expression”. With freedom comes responsibility. You don’t have an absolute right to say what you want on a public forum.

      • Much as I’m flattered to be the centre of attention (*YAWN*)… do you have any opinion on the subject at hand?

        (and, I often scroll down to your posts, Andrew. At least you enjoy a debate).

    • Reply to Pj,
      Would you post something as rude as this, if you had the courage to put your real name?
      I don’t think so.

  6. To a degree i agree with Peter regarding the location.

    At the bottom of Belgrave, above the old Paps fish and chip shop, what was a run down pretty derelict building that got a £ 650 k grant from KCC under the scheme “no property left empty”, it is taking them what appears to be forever to do the work, now it maybe that the grant is released in stages, e.g. get the place watertight first, then some more is released.

    Further, on Belgrave Road itself, there is a property that has been taken over by Terrance House, i chatted to the builders who said it was Terrance House who bought it, converted into studio/self contained apartments, I have yet to see anyone living there. Thos are two examples within 100m of where I live.

    Take a walk up Northdown Road, there are many properties that could be considered.

  7. Sands hotel concerns are a hoot. Just how much of a cordon sanitaire would they require? A hotel in the heart of Margate … it’s already surrounded by a heady mix of sand, sun, fun, chic stuff and deprivation. That’s Margate. And yes, I have stayed in high end hotels. For a reality check, look no further than the support staff in such places.

  8. Peter. I think you may be confusing “temporary accommodation” with “homeless hostels”. They are not the same thing. The type of accommodation being provided and who it will be allocated to will be as described in Cllr. Helen Whitehead’s post above.
    I presume that priority will go to people in danger and people facing eviction through no fault of their own, the latter of which there is likely to be a huge increase due to buy-to-let landlords selling up.

  9. It is interesting, that of the 36 comments on this thread, only 5 have given a full name, with one being a local councillor.
    Maybe if Kathy Bailes asked for a full name to make a comment, people might give a bit more thought to what they are posting, instead of hiding behind some stupid pseodonym with their personal insults to other commentaters.
    It happens on every thread of IoTN

  10. And who are we to know for sure that “Jack Green” is even your real name?

    The forum invites a little bit of fun, banter and tongue-in-cheek aspersions; comments would otherwise be unimaginably dull.

    • Well, the last time I looked at my birth certificate, that is what it says, Jack Leo Green.
      Whereas I am quite sure yours does not say St. Nom de Plume – Diva of Anonymity.
      Of course I could be wrong.

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