Empty building to become flats

An artists impression of the building at Bretton Court
An artists impression of the building at Bretton Court
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An empty building is to be converted into a block of at least 40 flats to reduce the high numbers of homeless people in Peterborough.

Peterborough City Council is seeking to use the building in Bretton Court as permanent accommodation for homeless families from early 2019 should planning permission be granted.

The premises was previously leased by the New Hope Ministries church. The ground floor is a combination of shops and offices - which are not affected by the development - and offices.

The issue of homelessness was raised at the council’s Adults and Communities Scrutiny Committee meeting on Tuesday. Councillors on the committee praised the decision by the authority, which was revealed last week, to buy up homes in the city for permanent or temporary accommodation for people needing a place to live.

Cllr Stuart Martin said: “We really welcome the initiative to increase the housing supply by purchasing properties.”

Cllr Ansar Ali said: “It’s fantastic news that the decision has been taken. It has been said in numerous meetings in the past that we have this issue with homeless people in B&Bs, costing us a lot of money.

“I wish we had taken this decision sooner, but better late than never. It’s just a starting point I hope.”

The council’s housing needs manager Sean Evans said seven new members of staff were due to start in his team soon. In addition, the authority is reviewing its policies to see how it can offer further financial support to people at risk of losing their home.

Officers are also exploring ways in which landlords might be incentivised to continue to accept tenants in receipt of benefits. The council is expecting a rise in homelessness due to the benefits system Universal Credit, which began being fully rolled out in Peterborough yesterday.