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Source: St Albans City and District

A dilapidated development in the St Albans District is to be brought back into use to create more much-needed housing.

The initiative will result in a major improvement to the quality of temporary accommodation available to homeless people.

Four blocks of flats at Ridgeview, London Colney, mostly former student accommodation for the University of Hertfordshire, are to be transformed.

St Albans City and District Council owns the properties on a long lease and all but one of the blocks has been empty since 2015.

The Council will refurbish 15 flats, currently used to temporarily accommodate homeless people, and create 11 new ones at two of the blocks. 

These properties will be modernised with better kitchens, bathrooms and fittings and also made energy-efficient.

They will be used as temporary accommodation for homeless people who might otherwise be housed in costly hotels or bed and breakfast accommodation.

The move should save the Council a considerable amount of money in the long-term.

It will also ensure people in temporary accommodation, who are waiting for a permanent home, can live in properties suitable for maintaining a decent family life.

As part of the project, the other two empty blocks will be transformed into 19 flats that will be rented out to private tenants. This will provide valuable revenue for the Council.

Details of the Ridgeview project were given to a meeting of the Council’s Cabinet on Thursday 24 October.

Cabinet agreed to the scheme, subject to an agreement being reached with the freeholder, and gave the go-ahead for a building contractor to be appointed. It is hoped to complete the work in early 2021.

Councillor Jacqui Taylor, Portfolio Holder for Housing, Inclusion and Protection, said: “This is a very worthwhile project as it greatly improves the quality of the temporary accommodation that we have available.

“We have a legal duty along with other local authorities to house homeless households in temporary accommodation until something suitable is found for them.

“We have experienced a significant increase in the number of such homeless people over the last year, so Ridgeview will help us cope with the pressure on our resources.

“It will also reduce the amount of people we might otherwise have to place in hotels or bed and breakfast accommodation. That is not only costly, but it is a dreadful way for families and individuals to live.

“We want them to have a kitchen and other facilities rather than have to live out of a suitcase.”

Councillor Robert Donald, Portfolio Holder for Property, Commercial and Development, said: “This is another ambitious building project that we will be delivering for the benefit of the community.

“Most of Ridgeview has lain empty and neglected for the past four years at a time when the District is crying out for housing.

“We are now committed to transforming this run-down development to provide high-quality temporary accommodation as well as some much-needed flats for the private rental market in the area.

“The revenue from the privately-rented flats will support our overall budget which is under continuous pressure.” 

Councillor contact:

Councillor Jacqui Taylor, Portfolio Holder for Housing, Inclusion and Protection: cllr.j.taylor@stalbans.gov.uk, 07971 906343.

Councillor Robert Donald, Portfolio Holder for Property, Commercial and Development for St Albans City and District Council: cllr.r.donald@stalbans.gov.uk, 01727 841647.

Media contact:

MIL OSI United Kingdom