Two applications are currently being considered by London Borough of Bromley’s planning officers proposing the change of use of Benedict house, a former nursing home, to a Residential Support Centre.
LBB’s Director of Housing has provided a briefing document, below, to answer some of the concerns that have been raised so far:
What is the Proposal?
Benedict House has recently been purchased by developers who are seeking to redevelop the site for high quality apartments. Time is required to prepare for redevelopment meaning that Benedict House is likely to be vacant for up to 2 years. In the interim the developers have offered the opportunity for the LondonBorough of Bromley to utilise the building for up to 2 years for use as temporary accommodation to help meet its statutory rehousing duties.
Why is the accommodation needed by Bromley for use as temporary accommodation?
The number of households presenting at risk of homelessness has increased steadily in recent years. For the majority, the reason for homelessness is that they are experiencing difficulties in affording the increasing costs of renting or buying a home. A reduction in new build accommodation, increase in private sector rents and changes within social housing has meant that move on housing options havedecreased and the numbers in temporary accommodation has risen to unprecedented levels. This has meant that to meet the level of housing need the Council has had to utilise costly forms of insecure nightly paid accommodation which frequently falls short of requirements in terms of location and quality. The use of Benedict House for up to 2 years would provide much needed local temporary accommodation whilst longer term housing solutions are identified.
Who decides which people would be placed into Benedict House?
The Council would retain full control over nominations throughout the periodof use. This means that the Council would decide who is placed into the accommodation and for how long.
Would people be placed from outside of the borough?
No, as the Council controls who is nominated only those households with a local connection with Bromley would be eligible. These would be residents who live and/or have permanent employment within the borough. Prioirty would be given to those households who currently live, work or have children in schooling near to, or on direct transport links to Copers Cope Road.
What type of People will be placed?
Local people, mainly families or couples, who have become homeless throughno fault of their own and to whom the Council owes a statutory duty to assist in rehousing. A full assessment would be undertaken before any household isnominated and only those households who have been assessed as able to fully maintain a tenancy independently where the need is solely for housing rather than support would be eligible to be placed into Benedict House. The scheme would not be open to those people who are deemed vulnerable requiring intensive support to be able to manage a tenancy because of their vulnerability, such as those with enduring mental health needs. The council has alternative specialist support schemes which provide more intensive support for these people.
Who will manage the schemes?
The scheme would be managed by Omega Mears. They already work with the Council sourcing and managing a number of temporary accommodationunits and have a long track record of successful temporary accommodationand tenancy management. It is proposed that 24 hour on site management is provided. Mears would also provide ongoing advice and support to residentsin partnership with the Council to assist households to secure settled accommodation and ensure that they do not become homeless again. For example helping to access employment for those who may not currently be in full time employment.
Would I be able to contact anyone if I had concerns or queries about the Scheme?
Yes, full contact details of the Mears staff and Council’s housing needs team would be made available to all local residents so that they would be able to make contact should they have any queries or concerns at any point.
What type of tenancies would residents have? Can you guarantee that they would have to leave at the end of the 2 years?
All residents would be signed up to a licence agreement. This is a non-secureagreement meaning that they would not hold any interest in the property or have any rights to remain in the long term. The agreement sets out residents’ responsibilities and the conditions they must meet to be eligible to stay in the accommodation. This includes their conduct and the conduct of any visitors to the scheme. As the agreement is not a ‘protected agreement’ it can be brought to an immediate end should any resident or their visitor breach these rules or the Council require vacant possession. In this way conditions can be actively enforced to ensure that the scheme operate successfully without disturbance or disruption for any other residents in the scheme or local community and can ensure vacant possession at the end of the period of use as temporary accommodation.
To view the applications, and submit your own comments, click on the links below:
Remember to include your name and address in any correspondence otherwise your comments will not be registered.