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Council extends temporary homeless accommodation scheme until 2025

02 Jun 2022 3 minute read
Image by Ev on Unsplash

Rhiannon James, local democracy reporter

Homeless accommodation in Pillgwenlly is set to remain until December 2025 after an application was approved by Newport City Council.

Currently there are 15 metal pods for homeless people, in addition to a pod for a warden, on Lower Dock Street. The council’s report states that the pods are monitored 24/7 by security.

Over 60 people have been housed in the temporary accommodation units – which include a bedroom and a bathroom – since May 2020.

The sixteen units are placed in a “C shape” and the warden’s unit is the largest, as it has an office space.

In the report presented to the planning committee, the council’s Housing Strategy Manager expressed their support for the application: “This is a safe, secure site which has been successful in accommodating people who have previously led a street-based lifestyle.

“Trauma informed support is provided on site which aims to prevent residents from returning to rough sleeping by allowing them to develop or regain basic living and life skills, as well as receiving support to address substance misuse and mental health issues or criminal offending behaviour.”

Councillor Saeed Adan, who represents the Pillgwenlly ward, objected to the application on behalf of residents and businesses.

Labour councillor Adan questioned the effectiveness of the public consultation – which did not receive any responses from residents.

Antisocial behaviour

Cllr Adan linked the pods to sex work, crime and antisocial behaviour, and added that this type of accommodation should not be placed in “one of the most poverty-stricken wards in Wales and the most deprived wards in Newport”.

At the meeting, council officer Stephen Williams said there was no evidence to suggest that the site has “exacerbated crime” in the area.

He added that Gwent Police were consulted on the application but did not make any comments.

A letter of representation was received from Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Services, part of the Ministry of Justice. It asked for clarification on how long the “temporary” development would be in place, but added it was not against the proposal.

At the meeting, Tracey Brooks, Head of Regeneration and Economic Development at the council, said: “The request for temporary permission is because we don’t envisage using this site for residential use permanently.”

The council’s historic Building and Conservation Officer objected to the application because of the “negative impact” on the conservation area – they added that the units have “no architectural design”.

At the meeting, Ms Brooks said the look of the site could be improved through schemes, after Cllr John Jones, who represents the Graig ward, described it as a “base camp”.

Six councillors voted in support of the application, and four voted to refuse it – therefore it was approved.

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