Councillors have reviewed the project proposals to redevelop one of its properties, which will provide an additional 17 flats for people who are homeless, and have given the go ahead to proceed to the next stage.

"We are delighted to have reached this pivotal point in the project, which we know will make a real long-term difference to people," says Councillor Alan Sutton, Cabinet Member for Housing, Communications, Licensing and Events at Chichester District Council.

"Our officers and contractors have been working hard behind the scenes to move this project forward and we are now at the stage where we can look to start the redevelopment work. We have been inviting contractors to submit their ideas to us and we will shortly be selecting our preferred developer."

It is anticipated that work will start on the site this year. Once completed, the property will complement the existing accommodation managed by the council's accommodation team.

Cllr Sutton adds: "Sadly we've seen an increase in the number of those coming to us who are homeless and our existing emergency accommodation has been operating at full capacity for the past year. Unfortunately, as a result, we have been left with no other choice but to rely on finding bed and breakfast accommodation - often situated out of the district - to help keep a roof over people's heads. We recognise that this is a far from ideal situation. 

"As a result of the coronavirus crisis, the demand for temporary accommodation has been even greater, making this project even more important. The initiative will mean that we can provide many more short stay homes for people who need this support, and at the same time maximise the space in our existing temporary accommodation. We are committed to reducing homelessness in the district, and this is one of a number of initiatives we have introduced to tackle the issue.

"The council has dedicated outreach workers who provide much-needed support and guidance to help rough sleepers rebuild their lives. This year, we also secured more than £250,000 in Government funding towards supporting rough sleepers in our district. £230,000 of this was used to enhance local services, including: additional outreach staff, a dual diagnosis worker, and the extension of the opening hours of Stonepillow's day centre hub from five to seven days a week. A further £23,000 was received to help provide short-term accommodation for rough sleepers during the current pandemic.

"We're lucky to have such incredible homelessness charities in our area, particularly during the current crisis, and we work closely with them to support those who are rough sleeping."

The council will be updating people on the progress of the project as it develops on its latest news web page, in its residents' magazine Initiatives, and on its social media channels.

Date of release: 23 July 2020

Reference: 3905