Plan to use modular homes to help homeless families to go before Cabinet

A proposal to spend more than £2m on modular, self-contained accommodation could save Swindon Borough Council up to £326,000 a year and prevent homeless families from being housed in B&Bs and hotels.

Published: Tuesday, 14th November 2023

five modular homes in a row which are coloured blue.

The Council’s Cabinet is meeting on Wednesday (15 Nov) to discuss the plans as part of a wider £17m affordable housing programme. 

Councillors will be asked to authorise the purchase of the modular units, at an estimated cost of between £85,000 and £130,000 per unit. A budget of up to £2.1m has been set aside for the units. 

The modular units have been used by a number of local councils in recent years and are seen as a solution for the number of families and singe people becoming homeless. 

Last year in Swindon, over 100 families were accommodated in hotel and temporary accommodation. This can cost the Council around £1,700 a month per family. 

The off-site manufactured self-contained living units would allow the Council to increase its range of accommodation, reducing the need for more expensive hotel and B&B accommodation, delivering significant financial savings. 

There are a number of vacant sites identified across the Borough which need to be appraised and surveyed to assess their viability and suitability. 

The Council’s Cabinet will also be asked to approve investing £13.8m, with some of the money being provided by Homes England, in a further 43 homes at three sites across the Borough. 

These include building 19 units (£5.9m) on the site of the former Whitbourne House care home in Park South, 10 units (£3.5m) on the site of a garage block in Wingfield Avenue in Penhill, and a further 14 units (£4.4m) on land next to Nationwide’s Oakfield development, off Marlowe Avenue. 

The proposed scheme at Whitbourne House would provide intergenerational homes along with properties for those aged 16 and over, single people, couples and families. 

The Wingfield development will also provide much needed family-sized accommodation. 

The scheme at Oakfield would provide housing for people with disabilities. 

The affordable housing programme also proposes spending £1.1m to repurpose sheltered housing scheme, Salzgitter Court, in Toothill into accommodation. 

The sheltered scheme has been chosen because it does not meet modern standards, with no lift and having predominately bed-sit accommodation. The Council would ensure that all tenants are rehoused into housing which better suits their needs. 

Councillor Janine Howarth, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “We are committed to addressing homelessness in Swindon and the proposed investment in modular, self-contained accommodation is a cost-effective solution that not only saves taxpayers money, but will provide better living conditions for those residents who require support and ensure we reduce our reliance on hotels and B&Bs. 

“It forms an important part of our affordable housing programme, which aims to provide more homes for residents in Swindon who need them, aligning with our three missions to reduce inequality, build a better Swindon and achieve net zero.” 

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