Flats above an Epsom library set for temporary accommodation for homeless people

Two flats above a library are set to be used as temporary accommodation for homeless people, Epsom and Ewell Borough Council decided last week (March 26).

Demand for temporary accommodation is “acute”, according to the council. It is currently predicting an overspend of £200,000 of its £1.5m temporary accommodation budget, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Two self-contained, two bedroom maisonettes that sit above the Stoneleigh Community Library in Epsom that are accessed through the back of the building are earmarked for use.

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Surrey County Council, who commercially lease the empty flats, have reportedly refurbished the maisonettes to a “high standard” and will require “minimal preparation” to be used as temporary accommodation.

Emergency and temporary accommodation is provided to housing register applicants whilst their claim is being investigated. Homeless people currently sit in Band A of the council’s housing allocations.

Around 235 homeless ‘households’ (i.e individuals or families) were accommodated by the council in 2021, with 155 in temporary accommodation and 80 in nightly-paid accommodation, costing up to £140 a night.

Meeting documents state the decision will create a real cost saving of £30,920 pa for the two maisonettes combined to the council.

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A budget of £15,000 was agreed to cover the development of the site, with £5,000 covering legal and/or surveyor costs to the council and contributing to SCC for landlord approval costs. An additional £10,000 is set aside for a maisonettes preparation contingency.

Owned by a private landlord, the borough council will under lease from SCC who currently commercially lets the property. SCC and Epsom and Ewell Borough Council lease will co-expire in just under three years. The terms will then be renewed or re-negotiated.