Opinions are being sought on plans for temporary accommodation for the homeless to be built in a parking lot near downtown Ashford.
The proposed project would see 23 factory-produced modular homes erected on the grounds of the Henwood Industrial Estate – which the local authority says is underutilized as a parking site.
Ashford Borough Council says the units – which will be a ‘stepping stone’ until homeless people or households can move to more permanent accommodation – will save taxpayers around $ 5. , Â£ 3 million over the 60 year life of the project.
Cllr Paul Clokie (Con), housing council portfolio holder, said: “People who find themselves homeless will be offered a base on which to seek more permanent housing, while the taxpayer and council reduce their financial obligation continues to pay for temporary accommodation for a third party.
“So we are looking to provide more short-term temporary housing, which means that in the long term we will save money and provide a better solution for people who find themselves homeless.”
Based on pre-pandemic figures, the Henwood parking lot is said to be operating at around 20% of its capacity and has been at that level for several years.
The 23 houses proposed for the site would be a mix of 13 one-bed, nine two-bed and one three-bed units – with a large walled garden to the rear and parking for 19 vehicles.
As the site is in a flood-prone area, the houses would be built on top of a 2.4m platform, meaning they would be able to withstand even the most extreme 100-year flooding.
Cllr Clokie said: âUnder the Homelessness Reduction Act, we have a legal obligation to provide anyone who is homeless or at risk of homelessness with advice and assistance.
âThis includes the provision of temporary accommodation, and we already have two short-term accommodation facilities at Christchurch House and Christchurch Lodge.
âThese have helped nearly 200 households at the most vulnerable time of their lives and given them the opportunity to start over, to move from there to suitable housing.
“However, the council only has two short-term accommodation with eight beds, and there are currently over 100 people to whom we have accepted a homelessness obligation.
“These people stay either in guest rooms, or by paying an overnight stay.
âOn average these placements cost around Â£ 260 per week and aside from the huge impact it has on these households it puts a strain on the council’s finances. If we have our own facilities that can accommodate residents then there are benefits for everyone. “