Ipswich pods for former rough sleepers approved despite objections over their size
- Credit: Centred Architecture
Plans to build eight pod-style homes for former rough sleepers in Ipswich will go ahead, despite objections over the size of the units.
Ipswich Borough Council will build eight modular units on vacant storage land off Whitton Church Lane, after it approved planning permission last week.
The prefabricated units had originally been planned for The Drift, but the council's executive opted to move it to Whitton Church Lane after problems emerged with the original site.
The units are designed for former rough sleepers to live in for up to two years as a stepping stone to moving into permanent homes.
But the proposals have attracted a host of objections.
Whitton and Claydon Parish Council said it has "a growing concern that the rural nature of the boundary with Ipswich borough is already becoming eroded and that developments of this nature have the potential to escalate that".
The parish council also questioned why the land was being developed when it is in protected open space.
It added: "The unit internal living space is unclear as within the documentation it varies between 24 and 27sq metres.
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"In any case, the parish feel duty bound to point out that the minimum acceptable space for a single occupancy as detailed in [national planning policy] which we believe IBC has adopted is 37sqm.
"Therefore, the borough council are in jeopardy of breaching their own planning rules and requirements as well as the national ones should this application be approved."
The parish council said in some cases that meant those rooms would be smaller than hotel rooms, which was not appropriate for people living there long-term.
However, the council's planning officer, Richard Collins, said that while the space was below those set out in national and local planning policies, it "has been designed to meet the needs of a single occupant, and they intentionally do not include additional space to ensure that it can only be easily occupied by a single occupant".
Mr Collins said input had been received from homeless charities and specialist advisors, and the small scale aims to prevent associated problems of rough sleeping, such as drug dealing or cuckooing - where people take advantage of a vulnerable person's home and use it as a base for drug dealing or exploitation.
The council said occupants would be living there on licensing terms, meaning if they breached those licences from those activities they could be ousted. CCTV will also be erected in the area.
However, ward councillor Christine Shaw, who represented more than 35 objectors in the area, said: "The major concern for our residents is anti-social behaviour.
"The community fears the pods are located in a place near to open recreation space that will cause an increase in anti-social behaviour."
The plans were approved by 11 votes out of 12, with one abstention.
Neil MacDonald, portfolio holder for housing, said: “These homes meet a clear need and are ‘step-up’ accommodation for formerly homeless people.
"In this carefully designed housing and with a dedicated support worker’s help, residents will be able to live more safely and then also move on, after their limited time here, to a permanent home.“