Former care home could become accommodation for rough sleepers

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A former care home in Northampton is set to be converted into a 27-room accommodation offering a roof over the head for rough sleepers.

The former Kingsley Nursing Home, based at 18-20 Kingsley Road, has been earmarked by Keystage Housing to offer 24 hour intensive supported accommodation to individuals who are currently rough sleeping, at risk of rough sleeping or who are living in unsuitable or unstable accommodations.

Keystage have applied for a change of use planning application to Northampton Borough Council in order to move the scheme forward, and it has been recommended for approval by planning officers.

It is hoped guests will be able to be re-settled within 28 days of a stay, however occupants can stay longer if a suitable re-settlement option is not found within that time.

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A report which will be read by councillors on the planning committee states: “The aim of the building is to help the service users to break negative behaviour and find a resettlement opportunity. This involves the use of social workers, care co-ordinators, drug counsellors and mental health teams, for example. It is advised that it is likely that at the most a service user would only need one specialist visit per week, and these specialist visitors are likely to visit more than one service user when on site. Other appointments are largely outside of the site.”

Eleven letters from eight residents have been received objecting to the application. Their objections range from questioning the facilities; leading to an increase of crime and homelessness in the area; litter being thrown into neighbouring gardens; and one comment asking whether rough sleepers would be ‘imported’ from elsewhere or whether they would only be from Northampton.

A further eleven letters have also supported the proposals. One states the scheme is an ‘important contribution to helping people experiencing homelessness to rebuild their lives and find and maintain a home’. Others praise the applicants as an ‘excellent and professional organisation’ and another states: “It’s important to ensure vulnerable and at risk groups are provided with temporary shelter and ongoing placement.”

The report adds: “All occupiers are referred to the site, and vetted before they are accepted to stay at the property. No person approaching the building directly would be allowed admittance, with these being signposted elsewhere. No occupiers of the building are given keys, and staff escort residents into and out of the building. All staff on site, a minimum of three at any one time, have CCTV access on devices to monitor who is at doors.

“No guests or visitors are allowed within the building. The service users are allowed to live their lives normally and are not made to remain in the building or be home by certain times. Service users are required to comply with behaviour agreements, and if breached staff will work with the individual to try to overcome this, and if not possible, the individual may be removed from staying at the building. The aim is, however, to work with service users to overcome these issues.”

It is yet another proposed use for the Victorian building, which is opposite the Racecourse. It was last used as the Trinity House nursing home, but closed in 2018 after getting an ‘inadequate’ rating from the CQC. Prior to that it had been Kingsley Care Home, which also closed in 2016 after damning criticism from inspectors.

In January 2020, it had been purchased for £710,000 by CJS Care (Northampton) Ltd, which had intended to turn it into 14 supported living flats.

Although this latest scheme has been recommended for approval, it is members of Northampton Borough Council’s planning committee who will have the final say when they vote on the application in a virtual meeting on Thursday, (January 21).