Former refuge almost ready to open doors as new ‘Thanet Shelter’ provision for isle’s rough sleepers

Edgar Road (google maps)

A former refuge in Cliftonville is now almost ready to open as a 24/7 accommodation and services site for people who have been rough sleeping.

Thanet council has bought the property in Edgar Road, which will provide 16 units of independent accommodation within a communal building with homelessness team Rise and other agencies providing support and services.

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

The property will eventually be converted into self contained homes at affordable rents but for the time being it will provide homelessness accommodation and is expected to open on November 4th after final health and safety checks have been completed.

Previous Thanet Shelter

Rise previously ran the same Thanet Shelter accommodation and services scheme at the Broadstairs English Centre language school. This was from November 2020, when the covid pandemic meant Public Health guidance restricting shared sleeping spaces, until the end of February this year when the lease ran out and the building was needed for returning students.

The Edgar Road property is expected to stay in use for homelessness services until at least March 2025, which is when the current tranche of funding for the council’s Rise service runs out.

Speaking at a Thanet council meeting last night Cllr Helen Whitehead, who is in charge of the housing portfolio, said: “Rough sleeping and homelessness provision is of great importance to me; principally because one of my main reasons for first considering becoming a Councillor was my time spent volunteering at the Thanet Winter Shelter, and my belief that we needed to have year round, 24/7 and multi agency provision.

“I have always believed that it is our duty as a council to provide long term, one site provision. Our first communal residence came about the last time I was Cabinet member for Housing, during the pandemic, and unfortunately ended due to the fact that we didn’t own the building and were only leasing it until it was brought back into its usual usage.

“Across this period our communal accommodation typically housed between 20-25 people per night in individual rooms, with access to common areas and multi agency support.

“When this lease ended in February 2023, six residents still required support into individual accommodation. From those six, four went into temporary accommodation and two went into RISE Supported accommodation.

“The benefits of this one site model are clear, especially for those with complex needs; through having this communal base and outreach we were the first council in Kent to successfully offer and administer COVID vaccinations to those rough sleeping or known to RISE, as well as offering medical and dental services on site.

“The next step to take was to ensure that these services had a council owned home, not subject to external lease or instability of provision linked to that.”

‘Accommodate every known rough sleeper in Thanet’

Cllr Whitehead said the sale is now complete and once in use will mean the council has “sufficient accommodation to accommodate every known rough sleeper in Thanet.”

She said: “We have completed the acquisition of a large site in Edgar Road with the long term intention of converting it into self-contained homes for affordable rent.

“We are currently using it as our first ever council owned home for RISE, providing not only accommodation but also essential on site services and multi agency support for residents, to provide homes whilst building confidence and ability to maintain long term individual tenancies.

“This is a huge step forward for us, and an important and necessary investment in the health and wellbeing of our residents and community.

“The Edgar Road site will provide sixteen units of independent accommodation within a communal building; providing access to support, as well as more independence and privacy than a shelter model.

“We are currently completing essential health and safety works in the building and as soon as these are completed the service will be able to use the building. We anticipate residencies will begin from November 4th.

“As soon as Edgar Road is available we will have sufficient accommodation to accommodate every known rough sleeper in Thanet. All those currently accepting support from RISE will be able to access our first ever Council owned, multi agency rough sleeping provision, which is an exceptional achievement, and I thank RISE and Housing Officers for all their work on this project.”

Rise funding

Cllr Whitehead said work will take place to try and secure funding to continue the Rise service after the current allocation ends in March 2025, adding: “Housing and homelessness is an absolute priority for this administration, as demonstrated by our commitment to increase our provision of social housing and in house temporary accommodation for local residents, and we will continue to bid and do our absolute best to secure funding for residents in need of this service.”

Get advice

Thanet council Housing Team 01843 577277

Shelter England

Citizens Advice

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

Covid restrictions mean big changes for the Thanet Winter Shelter

23 Comments

  1. I appreciate assistance must be given to the homeless but £1.6m? There is currently a property for sale in Surrey Road, operating as a hotel, with 14 bedrooms and costing just £575,000. There are 7 bathrooms so why can’t two bedrooms share one bathroom? Most of us do in our own homes and I did for years when I first had a house share. So I question whether TDC is making the best use of its funds.

    • The refuge building also had asbestos removal contractors there for over 2 weeks, ( 3 vans, a mobile decontamination unit, 6 men plus each day) were these costs taken into account in the purchase price and paid for by the refuge or an extra, when it comes to conversion into flats, the roof needs completely redoing and the windows are currently single glazed sash window. So the building is going to cost a fortune to heat, and be more expensive to reach decent efficiency levels when the conversion takes place. This is the same council that once proudly declared “ climate change will be at the heart of all we do “ or some such.
      It also makes for a pretty unbalanced community in Edgar Road (an area that tdc were keen to improve) social housing block, the glenwood now used for asylum seekers and now the homeless centre all within 300yds.

  2. Sounds like once the funding has stopped tdc will then be looking to sell off or rent out to recover the money spent on this and the homeless will then be back on the streets. Why can’t it continue as a homeless accommodation to help the more than 25 people stated?. That’s right an election is coming up and they want to be seen as doing something good. When really it’s about a free fund spent just to get back more money and putting the homeless back to square one. Short term and short sighted again it’s profits before people, shame on you tdc.

    • Chris; I’m a bit confused, as what we’re doing with the building is clearly described in the article.

      We won’t be selling off the property; we currently have funding for RISE until March 2025, which means we have a stable home for all of our rough sleeping services until that point.

      I very much hope that rough sleeping decreases, but given the cost of living crisis and extensive underfunding of essential services I think that it’s unlikely; hence why we will always be looking to provide in house, on site, multi agency rough sleeping support, whether in this building or another.

      I’m not sure where you got the number 25 from in relation to this project, however; it contains 16 units of accommodation.

  3. It earlier stated 25 know homeless people in this article but now has disappeared????. As for funding till 2025 what next??. What wait for more funds, as I said earlier short term just like everything else tdc does.
    Sorry you don’t like my reply but it’s true. Maybe if you had funding till 2030 I might think you have achieved something.

    • Chris; it isn’t TDC that allocates funding in the short term. It’s central government.

      Councils across the country have to bid to central government for funds for essential services like rough sleeping and homelessness prevention, which makes long term planning for all Councils challenging; but we fully expect to receive further funding, because we need it, and we will continue to apply for and if necessary fight for essential funding.

      Your reply isn’t “true” because a) we’re not selling the property and b) your reply lacks context, and c) infers motivation that isn’t there; this is something that I’ve wanted and argued for for six or seven years now, and I very much don’t make political gestures, or put profit before people (which, again, doesn’t apply to this project in any way).

        • It looks like you did.
          Probably because you were making false statements that deliberately misrepresent what the council is doing.
          I’ve followed TDC goings on for a while now and Ms Whitehead often attempted to raise issues or debate motions with the previous administration and was all too often batted away.
          We DO have a homeless problem in Thanet and this administration appears to be doing what it can – with the money it has – to find as long a term solution as it can.

      • Would it be possible for either yourself or tdc to provide some figures for the costs of providing the shelters?
        How much was paid to Paramount for the facility at the old British Legion in St.Johns Road, ? There was a huge amount of work done during lockdown to convert it to it’s current form and with its current application to be turned into flats that expenditure covered little more than 3 years of use and that’s before the ongoing running costs. I realise that much was covered by government grants but it would still be interesting to know what this type of support costs.
        Similarly will there be some insight into the costs associated with the Edgar Road facility, are the asbestos removal costs and upgrades for its new use , paid for from the grant funding, tdc or porchlight ? Are all costs going forward whilst neing used as a homeless hostel being covered by grant funding or are some costs being borne by tdc/council tax payers? Why was such a poorly insulated and energy efficient building seen as suitable for its new use and given the current cost of energy who is paying the bills?

  4. Poor Edgar Road the constant imbalance in this road with no stable community and the council still dumping the most vulnerable people there is SHOCKING. Glenwood and now the refuge building this is unfair on its residents. Helen Whitehead you need to wake up.

    • Most certainly and when you consider the Glenwood itself was up for sale last year with a price tag of a million, it certainly looks as though there was a degree of cosy over payment to the refuge.
      The building is effectively 4 large terraced houses, similar houses at the top end of Edgar Road that have had the full DFL makeover have sold in the 550-600k range.
      A current example of a flat close by

      https://www.rightmove.co.uk/properties/135471185#/?channel=RES_BUY

      Either way the purchase price looks to have been generous. Who has funded the works to get the building fit porchlight or has it come from the homeless funding? What are the expected conversion costs? The 1.6 million would have bought 8 plus properties if in a similar deal to the recent spitfire way deal and be providing additional local council housing pretty much immediately and the same could be done with the capital required for the refurbishment.

        • Thanks for the clarification, but still a huge amount of money for the building in comparison with others in the area.

      • It should also be remembered that the council used the Glenwood for its emergency housing needs for a good while ( before they engaged with Paramount for provision) after the eventual closure of the infamous Leslie Hotel, all this did was move the problem from Surrey road to Edgar road. Then there was the period where the then housing association runnig Hatherley Court used it to give , people with “problems” from other parts of the country ,a new start . That didn’t help the road.
        In summary the road has for years tried to improve itself ( even Julian Court is finally having a bit of work done) , but has had successive decisions by tdc/ external bodies that have helped drag the road down, and that’s without the never ending street drinking outside St. pauls church and the rather tired properties towards the top end on the left hand side ( looking up from the sea) that have for many many years specialised in housing substance dependent tenants.
        Will TDC be providing extra patrols / interventions to prevent the sort of behaviour that was common around the Broadway traffic lights by the alcoholics that used the accomodation provided at the school of english, the antics there stayed pretty much off the radar as the area isn’t immediately residential. Which isn’t the case at Edgar Road.

    • Dear Delilah;

      No one is being “dumped”. We are providing fully staffed, multi agency provision to support people who need it.

      We are also not placing anyone in Glenwood; it is not a District provision.

      All the best,

      Helen.

  5. Well done TDC it’s the Tories that have created this with over a decade of austerity and minimal if any investment in social housing after Thatcher sold them all off in the 80’s.
    TDC are really up against it, with more and more Airbnb investors buying up our coastal homes with second home/holiday home buyers adding to the dilemma and section 21’s flying around like confetti, the housing situation in Thanet is dire.
    Margate Central and Cliftonville West are the most deprived wards.
    Thanet is the most deprived district in Kent and Medway.

    • Well I for 1 can’t wait for the sunlight uplands of a Labour government where milk and honey flow freely and we can all look forward to a life of undreamed luxury.
      However back in the real world, the social housing sector has a worse customer satisfaction rating than the private sector. The private sector wasn’t responsible for Grenfell, Lakanal or the death of little Awaab. The taxpayer subsidises the social sector to a greater degree than the private sector. But the green eyed monster soon appears and wants to act against the private sector ( which has its rogues buthere is more than enough legislation to deal with them), so we end up with never ending legislation that all need to comply with in order to deal with the substandard minority, then you have people complaining about tenants being maltreated ( no mention of poor tenants) so more changes are suggested, chnges to the tax system make things even harder. As with any business all these costs fall on the customer ( tenant) or the landlord decides enough is enough and takes the property back and sells it, leaving a tenant homeless.
      Try and find a decent tenant , that has a good credit history, decent references, able to look after themselves and pay their bills, not as easy as you’d think and given all the possible negatives most landlords these days want tenants that would be eligible for full housing allowance if necessary ( so single under 35’s are at a disadvantage) and who have a solid guarantor.
      Quite agree about the short term holiday let market, quite why society has seen fit to make such properties more tax efficient than long term homes for people is beyond me and an area that needs looking at.
      Landlords were quite happy doing what they did and the vast majority provided decent housing , the sector has been made unattractive and so landlords are making rational decisions and calling it a day.

      So ial housing doesn’t provide floor coverings, cooker , the decor will most often be what’s left by the previous tenant. Social sector doesn’t pay tax, the councils social housing staff have their pensions and employee benefits paid by the council tax payer, let private sector landlords operate by the same rules and rents would be considerably lower ( or get the government to rebate the tenants directly) then of course the private landlord isn’t taxpayer funded for the initial deposit etc.
      But why bother letting a few facts get in the way of political ideology.

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