Thanet council plans to buy charity HMO site to convert to flats for residents facing homelessness

Thanet council Photo Frank Leppard

Thanet council is planning to buy a building used as a charity House of Multiple Occupation to turn it into 14 two- bedroom flats for those facing homelessness.

The property in Thanet is made up of several houses that have been configured as a single property, consisting of rooms with en-suite bathrooms with shared lounges and kitchens.

Thanet council plans to use £1.6m remaining in its Live Margate programme to buy the property with further capital funds used for the conversion.

‘Live Margate’  is a long-term programme that involves buying existing properties and turning them into quality family homes in Margate. The programme has included investment of £23.1m through organisations including Thanet District Council, Kent County Council and the Homes & Communities Agency and runs from 2011 to 2026. During the scheme 9 properties have been  purchased and refurbished creating 33 units of affordable housing.

The charity is moving out of the property next month after gaining a social investment loan last year to fund the purchase of 22 properties, including 12 in Thanet, for its clients.

‘Affordable rented housing’

A report to Thanet council Cabinet members, who will discuss the purchase at a meeting on March 2, says: “We have worked in partnership for a number of years with (the charity) and were contacted by them to see if we would be interested in purchasing the property they currently lease for affordable rented housing.

“The owner of the property was keen to ensure the property was able to ‘give something back’ to the community.

“The property in its current form is one unit, with ensuite rooms with shared kitchens and bathrooms. It is a licensed House in Multiple Occupation. All compliance and repairs are up to date.

“The property has been valued and the owner has agreed an offer, subject to contract, within the valuation.

“(They) have already started the process of moving out, they have purchased a number of units across Thanet, and have confirmed the property will be empty by 31st March 2023.”

The report adds that the conversion project will take between 12 and 18 months to develop and for works to start on site. During this time, the building has the potential to be occupied, as a house in multiple occupation to assist with the needs of homeless people.

Shadow member for housing Cllr Helen Whitehead said: “”The growth of our in-house housing service is much needed, and incredibly exciting; and seeing long term plans come to fruition is equally exciting.

“It is exceptionally positive to be able to use the Live Margate fund in a way that provides for all of our community, and provides much needed housing at a time where housing affordability is ever more of a concern.

“Huge thanks goes to the charity not only for their ongoing and essential work, but also for their consideration in putting forward a potential solution to great local need.”

Homes off Highfield Road in Ramsgate

The orange block is the site proposed for housing

At the same meeting Cabinet members will discuss using a parcel of land off of Highfield Road, Ramsgate, to build social housing.

The site is adjacent to Jackey Bakers sports ground.

The site was initially assessed to have capacity for up to 27 homes but council papers say this would most likely be reduced to approximately 20 units. Based on development of 25 new homes, the valuation advice is that the land value is £1,123,500. A smaller development of 20 homes would have a lower value of around £900k.

The council’s most recent Housing Needs study identified the district needs 548 new affordable homes each year to meet the needs of the local community. These 548 homes are part of the overall annual target of around 1,200 homes set out in Thanet’s adopted local plan.

A report to Cabinet members says: “Combining the council’s own programme with the programmes of housing association partners, new affordable homes are still a long way short of the 548 needed. “Due to these viability constraints on market led housing sites, there is a critical need for more affordable housing led sites to be identified and delivered, with land, funding and timetables that are independent of market housing delivery.

“There are a number of Housing Association led schemes being delivered within the district and the council’s own programme is making an essential contribution to increasing the number of new affordable homes, but more are needed.

“With the completion of phase 5 (council building and buying programme), the council will have delivered over 235 new homes since 2015.

“In November 2022, Cabinet reviewed the council’s housing development programme and agreed to allocate an initial £7.9m to a phase 5 programme, with potential to deliver 25-30 units in the financial year 2025/26. The site off of Highfield Road would make a significant contribution to the delivery of this commitment and a further site may also be needed to deliver the full programme.”

Cabinet members are expected to agree to transfer the site off Highfield Road from the general fund to the Housing Revenue Account for the provision of affordable housing.

Foy House

Foy House (Image Modis Construction)

Thanet council recently 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.

The newly refurbished flats 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.

Council build, buy and refurbish programme

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.

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

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

Plans to increase Thanet council’s home build scheme with Ramsgate and Millmead sites earmarked

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  1. That is good news as long as they are for local with family connections in the district for local history it used to be a large hotel years back beware of London councils wanting to house there homeless.

  2. So long as it doesn’t turn into another version of the Leslie Hotel / Glenwood when they were used for emergency housing and any problems that arise are dealt with swiftly , then it seems a good idea . However given the Hatherley Court social housing there needs to be a commitment not to take on the glenwood in the future for the same purpose to maintain a mix of tenures in the area.
    In addition give TDC opinion that cliftonville has too many smaller flats , would it not be better to create a number of larger units with gardens to encourage families to stay in the area longer term? 4 buildings could surely create 4 ground floor maisonettes with gardens and a reduced number of 2 bed flats.

  3. The Westwood area is continuing to pay a high price for this relentless development. Social housing or no, is there any doubt the vast majority of Thanet residents do not want this gluttony of development. The complete and utter lack of due consideration for the needs of the present residents of Thanet, to placate this addiction and obsession to overdevelopment by the national government and their Tory bedmates( along with the impotent local councils), is leaving the locals frustrated and cynical about all levels of government.

    • I think whether people like it or not the building is going to happen. Perhaps more important now is to call for better road systems, health services and schools to be put in place

    • There’s a shortage of housing and what’s built is bought and occupied, so if there’s a desire to prevent ever more development, then we condemn those aready in the country to living in cramped conditions and need to prevent the levels of migration we have, the first is plainly unacceptable the second there is seemingly no appetite for. ( yesterday it was announced there were 150k asylum applications in the system, so when these are eventually just about all rubber stamped we’ll need around 100k new homes ( all provided one way or another by the taxpayer)) then there is the need for infrastructure and services, the nations standard of living is going to decline as we don’t produce enough to sustain the tax base to do all this and maintain living standards, and that’s before the lunacy of net zero and the huge costs people are bow having to deal with as a result of our lack of energy security.
      Our lives are going to change , steering the change is the challenge not preventing it.

  4. Did I misread and not find a location for the HMO that is to be converted to flats. If it’s in Cliftonville can there please be a no car owners permitted clause in the tenancy agreement.

    • Because Oasis is meant to be a refuge , the address isn’t given , but yes it’s right in the middle of cliftonville. No way they’ll put a no car restriction and will even say that there will be reduced parking pressure as no staff on site and fewer overall individuals of adult age living there once converted. The nightmare for those living close by will the endless disruption and parking by the contractors the council uses for the conversion works.

  5. There are load of old buildings in Thanet that could be converted and sites available that should be considered before building on the land near Jackie Bakers. Maybe instead of building yet another art gallery / art studio in Ramsgate Highstreet they should convert some of the old unused buildings down there to be used as flats instead.

    • That plot of land also has a woodland area on it so I hope that Thanet Council do a proper nature study before they go ahead and bulldozer it all. Also I hope they ask the local residents for their opinions as well before just deciding.

      • Oh and another reason why not to build on that plot of land is they wouldn’t ever have any water . Yet again we’ve got mains water out in the area 🙁

      • I live in the area, and it’s a clear environmental crime to fully bulldoze the trees, brush and devastate the natural habitat that has developed around Jackie Bakers’ over the decades. After the Southwood woodland travesty, and the previous destruction of hedgerows in Jackie Bakers’ and the gerrymandering of its borders, one can only mock the local politicians who play lip service to green and environmental integrity. The lot of them are not to be trusted. Let our glorious local politicians try to put social housing in Joss Bay or Kingsgate. I didn’t think so.

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