Homeless pods will be erected in a Newport parking lot

A HOMELESS HOUSING SCHEME on a Newport car park is underway – despite being turned down by a council planning committee.

The controversial plan to build 12 modular homes in the Hill Street car park in downtown Newport has been recommended for approval by council planning officers, before the planning committee votes to refuse the plans in December 2021 , by a margin of five votes to four.

Councilors feared the impact on a conservation area.

But, under Permitted Development Rights granted by the Welsh Government, construction work began on the site in September 2021 – and can continue, although developers are still required to obtain planning permission within 12 months following the start of work.

Now, Linc Cymru developers have found themselves in a tricky position, as the pods are due to hit the site later this month (starting February 7).

Today (February 2), Linc confirmed that work will continue once the modules arrive, and a new planning application will be submitted, in the hope that it will address concerns raised by the council’s planning committee.

Last year Newport City Council agreed to lease part of the car park to Linc Cymru, for a period of 250 years.

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In a report by planning officers, plans to build 12 individual, self-contained rooms on an underused section of the Hill Street car park in the city center looked set to be approved.

At the time, it was recommended that they be conditionally approved for use as temporary accommodation, as a stopover from bed and breakfast, before residents could be moved to more permanent accommodation.

But, committee members had their own thoughts on the matter and, in a controversial decision, voted to refuse the plans.

The original artist’s impression of the pods

They felt that the design and location of the pods “would fail to preserve or enhance the appearance of the St Woolos Conservation Area”.

At the committee meeting, Natalie Thompson, head of the council’s housing needs unit, said “demand for services is currently extremely high”.

It is estimated that in Newport there are 380 households living in temporary accommodation, of which 270 are thought to be single person households.

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Linc revealed that following the planning setback, its design team made some changes to its proposals.

These include the introduction of green walls, additional landscaping, and a redesigned boundary wall and railings.

In addition, the storage of garbage cans and bicycles will be redesigned to give them a more traditional appearance.

The National Wales: what the pods look likeHow similar pods ended up looking like

It is hoped that these measures, along with the fact that the block will be set back from Hill Street, will make them more attractive.

However, some parts of the original plan should be retained.

This includes the two-storey building with 12 one-person apartments, with terrace and balcony space.

These are located on the east side of the Hill Street car park, with 28 parking spaces to retain.

The council housing officer who backed Linc’s application said: ‘I support these proposals which will provide much needed long-term accommodation for households currently in temporary homeless accommodation. During the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in the number of people approaching local authorities for help with housing and homelessness.

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“Once a household has been placed in temporary homeless accommodation, there are currently limited options for them to move into permanent long-term accommodation.

“There is not enough housing association inventory in Newport to meet this need and private rental sector properties are increasingly unaffordable. This development is an important part of local authority plans to increase the supply of affordable social housing in Newport.

The National Wales: inside similar podsThe interior of similar pods

Louise Attwood, executive director of property and commerce at Linc, said: “The homelessness crisis in Wales is acute in Newport. We were obviously disappointed that our request to provide secure, high quality permanent accommodation for 12 vulnerable people using innovative technology on an underutilized car park was refused.

“But we listened to what councilors and our neighbors had to say about the original application and made significant changes to our application to try to address those concerns.

“I really want to reassure residents that the new homes are really well designed, attractive and of high quality. This development will be extremely well managed.

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