Temporary housing planned for empty building near Royal Pavilion

The council plans to spend almost £2.7 million turning an empty building near the Royal Pavilion into 10 or 11 affordable homes for people needing temporary housing.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 11:13 am

The Regency townhouse, next to the Royal Pavilion grounds, was previously used as council offices and then by a local charity.

The proposal comes after the former occupant, the charity Team Domenica, left the premises because of the council’s plans to convert the building into a doctors’ surgery.

Those plans later fell through.

The latest scheme will need to be signed off by two Brighton and Hove City Council committees, starting next week when the Housing Committee is due to meet.

Councillors have been told that the £2.7 million budget for the project includes a payment of £890,000 for the land and building.

The sum – believed to represent a slight discount to the property’s commercial value – would be paid into the council’s “general fund” from the “housing revenue account”, which is funded by tenants’ rents.

If councillors sign off the scheme – with the final say resting with the council’s Policy and Resources Committee – about 10 months of building work could start next May.

And the first tenants could start living in the building – 62-63 Old Steine and 3-4 Palace Place – in April 2023.

A report said that if the council did not convert the building into its own accommodation, it could end up being sold to private developers for flats.

A commercial sale could net £1 million but it was likely that none of the flats would be much-needed affordable homes.

And while the building remains empty, the cost to secure, maintain and repair the site, as well as paying utilities and business rates, was about £40,000 a year.

The proposal for 11 homes would include nine one-bedroom flats and two with two bedrooms.

The nine one-bedroom flats would be made up of five for a single tenant and four for couples.

The two-bed flats would be designed for three people and could include young families.

At current prices, rents would be about £135 a week for a one-bedroom flat and £177 for two bedrooms.

The conversion is expected to cost about £1.2 million with a further £410,000 set aside for “zero carbon” work – and about £160,000 for professional fees.

The council proposes spending £530,000 from its “right to buy” receipts, £410,000 from the “sustainability and retrofit reserve”, £345,000 from the sale of land in Braypool Lane, Patcham, and almost £1.4 million from the housing revenue account.

More than 2,000 people live in temporary housing locally, much of which is leased from private landlords, while about 200 people a night stay in emergency housing.

The Housing Committee is due to give its verdict on the scheme in a meeting scheduled to start at 4pm next Wednesday (23 June) and which should be webcast on the council’s website.