April 19, 2024

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Inside Housing – News – Newham gets funding to buy L&Q block for rough sleepers

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Newham Council has received the government funding it needs to buy and refurbish a building from large landlord L&Q to use as a rough sleeper assessment centre.

Lady Helen Seymour House

Lady Helen Seymour House (picture: Google Street View)

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Council gets £9.3m funding to buy L&Q block for people sleeping rough #UKhousing


The council, which initially approved plans for the acquisition of Lady Helen Seymour House in Plaistow nearly three years ago, was granted £9.3m through the Single Homeless Accommodation Programme (SHAP) fund.

The fund is managed by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Greater London Authority (GLA).

If the purchase is agreed with L&Q, the centre would provide accommodation for people sleeping rough directly from the street and conduct assessments to understand people’s “needs, strengths, assets and aspirations”.

It would also provide wraparound health and care support, with external agencies such as GPs and substance misuse and mental health services utilising the site.

Newham’s cabinet backed plans to purchase and refurbish the building from L&Q in April 2021, but the plans were delayed over issues with funding.

According to a new council report, which went before cabinet on Tuesday, the council was working with the GLA to get funding to go ahead with its acquisition and refurbishment plans. 

The council initially expected to receive £3.5m in government grant. 

However, it said: “This funding source did not materialise in the way envisaged, and this had an adverse effect on the progress of the purchase and refurbishment works.” 

The report said the capital costs associated with the project have “significantly increased” by £2.4m as a result of inflation, and “consequently the previous budget agreed by cabinet is no longer sufficient to meet the costs of the capital works”.

After its successful bid to the SHAP fund, the council was awarded £6.5m in capital funding and £2.8m in revenue funding. 

The new report, which sought permission to proceed with the project with a higher budget, was backed by cabinet.

Neil Wilson, cabinet member for health and adult social care at Newham Council, said in the report: “The proposal to purchase and renovate Lady Helen Seymour House remains a key strategic priority within the council’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy. 

“The case for purchase remains compelling given the continuing homelessness and rough sleeping challenges faced by the borough. 

“Furthermore, the council is entirely dependent on third-party accommodation for the existing model, posing significant challenges if this were to be withdrawn.”

No deal has yet been agreed with L&Q, which may comment at a later date. 

A Newham Council spokesperson said: “We are working in partnership with L&Q on a range of supported accommodation for vulnerable adults’ priorities to ensure high-quality provision that meets the current and future needs of Newham’s population.”

The news comes after it emerged that Hammersmith and Fulham Council plans to buy a rough sleepers’ hostel from Home Group in a bid to keep the homelessness provision in the borough.

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