Shropshire Star

Shrewsbury town centre housing plan for homeless is 'recipe for disaster'

A council plan to house up to 61 homeless people in a prominent Shrewsbury building are a 'recipe for disaster' according to a leading Lib Dem councillor.


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The authority's Conservative administration has revealed proposals for part of the Tannery building for a 'temporary' period of three years as it seeks to find an alternative to putting people in temporary accommodation.

Shropshire Council says that B&B placements to house people in temporary accommodation cost the council around £2.5 million per year.

But Councillor Alex Wagner, who was the Lib Dem candidate for Shrewsbury at last week's General Election, thinks the option is all about saving money and not about people.

Councillor Wagner said: "The proposals for the Tannery are a recipe for disaster, and go completely against the strategy to regenerate Shrewsbury Town Centre."

At the same time the council is looking to cut the amount it spends on crime-cracking CCTV cameras in the town centre.

Councillor Wagner said: "To put these proposals forward in the same cabinet meeting in which almost all the CCTV monitoring in town is set to be cut will only encourage anti-social behaviour, particularly in the West End of town - home to most of our late night economy.

"Much smaller schemes have taken years of planning, and faced major difficulties.

"The Tannery proposals are over twice as large as any comparable scheme in Shropshire, yet are being pushed through by October this year.

"There is a huge missed opportunity here to improve the West End and put in place the sort of affordable housing for younger residents that businesses and public services are desperate to see.

"It is the end of days for the Conservative administration as they sell off the family silver and save every penny they can, regardless of the human impact."

The Tannery in Shrewsbury

The proposals, which are for the Tannery East in Mardol, come after the council approved a scheme to convert Coton Hill House in Shrewsbury into supported housing for homeless people, with 25 places available.

The authority says the approach will provide a better standard of accommodation for single homeless people, and will also cut down on the costly use of hotel and B&B placements.

It said there are currently around 250 households in temporary accommodation – although the figures fluctuate on a weekly basis. Of those, around 100 single people are in hotel or B&B accommodation.

Tannery East was built as dedicated accommodation for students attending University Centre Shrewsbury, and was completed in 2018.

With uncertainly over the future of the university project the council has decided to instead use the building for single homeless people – a group it says it is most difficult to find places for.

It added that the accommodation would not be used for rough sleepers.

'The proposal is a great opportunity'

Councillor Dean Carroll, Cabinet Member for Housing and Assets said: “As with many local authorities across the country, Shropshire is seeing an increase in people who are presenting themselves as homeless.

“We currently do not have sufficient supported accommodation to house those who are statutorily homeless and qualify for this type of accommodation. Therefore, we must look at how we can extend our temporary accommodation offer.

“The proposed scheme will offer supported living to single homeless with round-the-clock on-site management and support from experienced staff and is intended to be short term, for a period of three years, while the council develops more permanent solutions for providing temporary accommodation in Shropshire.

“This proposal is a great opportunity for the Council and for those we have a duty to help.

“It will also cut down on the use of B&B/hotel accommodation, which is often not ideal, costly and far from local support services."

Councillor Carroll said the council will work with the local community and partners to "address any queries they may have about the Tannery East proposals. We have set up a series of FAQs and a dedicated email address where residents and business can ask further questions.”

He added: “We want to help people secure better futures, and providing safe and well-managed accommodation is a key part of our offer. We also know that this accommodation, along with personalised support and a good management plan, can form a vital and important new provision for our community.

“Homelessness can happen to anyone, and we work with people from different backgrounds and situations, such as former military personnel, tenants evicted from their homes, or domestic abuse survivors. We offer support to most people we engage with, and we keep working with various partners to prevent homelessness and help homeless people find accommodation and work.”