Funds agreed so new Chichester temporary accommodation can go ahead

Proposed site sketch of temporary accommodation planned at Freeland Close in Chichester
Proposed site sketch of temporary accommodation planned at Freeland Close in Chichester

Councillors have approved a spend of up to £120,000 to relocate a gas main so that temporary housing in Chichester can be redeveloped.

The work in Freeland Close will be necessary to allow the four-unit home at number 22 – which the council bought in 2017 – to be expanded to cope with increasing demand.

Since 2016/17, homelessness applications have risen by more than 13 per cent, with the council having to place people in expensive bed and breakfast accommodation – mainly outside the district – due to the lack of available emergency space.

It is hoped that an application to develop the site into 21 units will be submitted next month.

The cabinet agreed that Southern Gas Network should be asked to carry out the relocation work and that money should be provided from the housing investment reserve to meet the cost.

Such a decision would usually be made by the full council but, with the next meeting not due until November 26 and no one want to delay the project more than necessary, the cabinet took charge using the Urgent Decisions Procedure.

Supporting the plan, leader Eileen Lintill (Con, Petworth) said she was ‘only disappointed that it’s taken so long to get this through’.

Members also agreed that £17,000 could be taken from reserves to pay for eight more CCTV at its 47-home temporary accommodation in nearby Westward House.

CCTV was originally installed in 2014 but only 12 of the flats are directly covered at any one time.

Norma Graves, cabinet member for housing, said: “Unfortunately, there has recently been an increase in the number of antisocial incidents at Westward House and, in order to ensure the safety of both staff and residents, a security audit of the scheme was recently commissioned.

“The report identified that the existing CCTV system provides only limited coverage and recommended that additional cameras are installed to ensure that all communal areas are fully covered.”

Mrs Lintill told members that the recording capacity of the cameras would be increased to 30 days and assured them that the cameras would not cover any private space.

The decision to approve the £17,000 included an extra £1,700 per year for the asset replacement programme to cover future replacement costs and £250 for the Westward House maintenance budget.