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
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.
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
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.
Thanet council Housing Team 01843 577277
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