Upgraded plans for mega homeless hostel in Kingsland Road now include free WiFi and communal areas
PUBLISHED: 14:25 02 September 2019 | UPDATED: 10:19 03 September 2019
Nicholas Taylor and Associates
Plans to build a mega homeless hostel in Kingsland Road have been upgraded to address a host of issues flagged up by councillors.
De Beauvoir's Cllr Polly Billington and Cllr James Peters spoke out against Blue Chip Trading's proposals for a 292-room facility earlier this year because of "far from acceptable" conditions at two of its adjacent hostels.
They included a lack of basic facilities such as communal areas, access to washing machines and the internet.
What's more, they estimate the council will be paying up to £4million a year to Blue Chip to temporarily house its tenants in the 11-storey hostel based on the £256 a week rent.
After meeting the councillors, along with town hall planners and the De Beauvoir Association community group, the developer agreed the new hostel - along with Metropolitan House and St Peter's Way - needs to improve.
New plans, which were consulted on last month, include free WiFi, a five-machine free launderette and communal areas hosting yoga, coffee clubs, a creche, homework clubs and counselling. Pre-arranged visitors would also be welcome.
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A report on the fresh proposals states: "Following detailed discussions, the principle of development is acknowledged and accepted however the primary concern is for the welfare of the people who will be staying in the proposed hostel. Conditions in this temporary accommodation hostel must allow for a decent quality of life and for residents' dignity to be assured."
Hackney Council has more than 3,000 families in temporary accommodation, and more than 1,000 are outside of the borough, with places such as Basildon and Kent being used.
Last week the Gazette reported that in 2018 it spent £54million on temporary accommodation. And the options to move people permanently are in Bradford, outside of Birmingham and various other far-flung places.
Cllr Billington said: "Myself and Cllr Peters have made no secret of our concerns for the welfare of the people who will live in this hostel and this is why we have fought for improvements in the proposals.
"But make no mistake: this is not the way it should be. Because of the chronic shortage of affordable homes in Hackney and the long waiting list driven by spiralling rents, insecure jobs and tenancies and welfare cuts, people - mainly families with children - stay in "temporary" accommodation for years.
"The council cannot build enough homes because the government won't let us.
"This plot isn't our land so we can't do with it as we please. But the least we can do is persuade those who will frankly make a lot of money out of this appalling situation that they create conditions for our residents that are dignified and decent."