With a declaration of ‘Jolly good us!’, Chichester District Council has approved the use of £102,000 to work up a scheme for temporary housing.
Since 2016/17, homelessness applications in the district have risen by more than 13 per cent, leaving emergency accommodation stretched to the limit.
At a meeting of the full council, Jane Kilby (Con, Chichester East), cabinet member for housing, asked members to approve the money to develop plans for 21 units in Freeland Close.
Mrs Kilby said: “Our existing emergency accommodation has been operating at full capacity for the past year and we’ve had problems trying to find suitable accommodation, particularly for larger families.
“As a result, we have been left with no choice but to rely on funding bed and breakfast accommodation, often situated outside the district.
“We recognise that this is a far from ideal situation for those involved, especially for families with young children.”
The council bought the Freeland Close property in 2017 and has been using it to provide four one-bedroom flats for homeless people, while looking into how best to use the space.
An initial budget of £15,000 was approved for an options appraisal, with a further £10,000 to take the preferred options to the planning application stage.
Now the plan is to demolish the building and erect a new one, with space for 21 units.
Mrs Kilby said the costs had increased ‘to reflect the size and scale of the development’.
The increase means the cost to bring the preferred option to planning is £40,000 and the estimated cost to finalise the design will be £72,000.
The money will come from the housing investment reserves and the flats will be used as short-term housing for families and single vulnerable people.
Mrs Kilby said: “It will give the council an opportunity to provide many more units of flexible temporary accommodation, making it easier to house larger families and single, vulnerable adults.
“The project will make a real long-term difference.”
Janet Duncton (Con, Petworth) said: “This is music to the ears. We know what the situation is – we all live out there in the real world – and to be able to provide 21 more units that will help people in difficulty like this is great.
“I don’t know how many other local councils are able to do it, but jolly good us!”