Rother council’s proposal to tackle growing homelessness problem

A rough sleeper
A rough sleeper

‘Stalled’ housing development sites could be compulsorily purchased by a council to provide more affordable housing in a bid to tackle a growing homelessness problem.

The measure is one of a series of proposals Rother District Council is considering, as figures show the number of homeless people seeking help in the district has almost doubled in three years.

The council is asking for feedback on its draft housing and homelessness strategy, which proposes measures to prevent and reduce homelessness and increase the supply and quality of affordable housing.

Other measures could include setting up a social lettings agency to boost availability of affordable homes, creating a street homelessness ‘hub’ in Bexhill and offering incentives to owners to bring vacant properties back into use.

Cllr Joy Hughes, cabinet member for housing, welfare and equalities, said: “The difficult economic climate in recent years means in Rother, as around the country, homelessness is a growing problem. We urgently need more affordable housing and buying up land which has planning permission for housing but has been lying idle for more than a year is one way this could be achieved. The scale of the problem means we need to consider some quite bold and innovative proposals.

“I’d urge anyone who lives or works in Rother and who has an interest in this issue to take 10 minutes to take part in our consultation, and help shape how we tackle this vital issue in the years to come.”

A review carried out by the council found the number of applications for homelessness support increased from 112 in 2014-15 to 216 in 2017-18, and identified a particular need for affordable rented accommodation.

The results of the consultation will be taken into account when a finalised version of the housing and homelessness strategy goes to cabinet and full council for approval early next year.

People can take part in the consultation, which runs until November 26, online at www.rother.gov.uk/housing-consultation.

Feedback can also be given by emailing consultations@rother.gov.uk, writing to Housing Strategy Consultation, POP Team, Acquisitions, Transformation & Regeneration, Rother District Council, Town Hall, Bexhill TN39 3JX or dropping it in at community help points at the Town Hall, at Market Square, Battle, or Rye Library.