Contain yourselves: New housing scheme to go live in Brighton
Charlotte Philby is a writer at The Independent with a weekly column on motherhood in The Independent Magazine. She was shortlisted for the 2013 Cudlipp award for excellence in popular journalism for her undercover investigative work, and writes for various cultural magazines.
Tuesday 28 May 2013
Light and airy studio spaces available in a brand new development at the heart of a bustling coastal resort, within walking distance of local amenities. Each has its own bathroom and kitchen with a balcony and separate entrance. Environmental credentials include solar panels.
This exclusive new development in Brighton is one of a kind: a collection of shipping containers transformed into new homes, reserved for some of the city’s homeless people.
An old scrap-metal yard in the city’s London Road area is to be turned into a housing development for the dispossessed. Planning permission has been passed and groundwork for the development – which has attracted some criticism – is to start within weeks.
Once the 36 shipping containers have made their way across from the Netherlands, the installation of walkways and balconies will begin. The first tenants are expected to move in by September.
“Shipping containers are relatively cheap to provide and maintain,” says Andy Winter, the chief executive at Brighton Housing Trust, which initiated the pioneering scheme. “They are built to withstand ocean waves so they will last a long time.
“They’re airtight and the windows are double-glazed so heating bills are much lower than they would be in some traditional buildings.”
There is plenty of demand for new dwellings to accommodate Brighton’s homeless population: the housing trust estimates that between 70 and 100 people sleep rough each night in the city, the figure having trebled in the past two years.
Christina Thom, the project manager at the local Clock Tower Sanctuary homeless charity, said the scheme was a “fantastic idea”.
“The more living spaces there are, the better,” she said. “The social-housing shortage right now is horrendous – our figures for young presenting as homeless is up by 22 per cent.”
Si, 40, who has been sleeping rough in Brighton for years, said he is reluctant to believe the promise until he sees it: “It would be a good idea to find any kind of roof, but I’d have to look at it and see that it is what they say.”
From the mock-up drawings, the new studios look very liveable indeed: a series of well-considered, decent-sized rooms with their own kitchen, bathroom and living area.
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