Key workers secure temporary accommodation in Torquay hotel | New

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The Richmond Hotel on Croft Road in Torbay will also house other people in need

Author: Helen DownPosted on September 2, 2021

Key workers and those in need of temporary accommodation will be accommodated in a Torbay hotel for six months to provide a “breaker” to the bay’s housing crisis.

The council has agreed to rent the 47 rooms at the Richmond Hotel on Croft Road in Torquay for six months starting September 14. Thirty-two rooms will then be rented to families in need of temporary accommodation and 15 to key workers.

The cost of the short-term contract is estimated to be around £ 450,000, an average of £ 52 per room per night. City staff will visit the hotel daily to assist those staying there.

The move, made by the Torbay City Council cabinet yesterday (September 1), is described as a ‘circuit breaker’ that will help alleviate what the council sees as a serious housing shortage. The council is currently trying to help 125 households in need of temporary housing, of which about a third are families with children. Many key workers, including NHS staff entering the bay, are also struggling to find accommodation.

The board of Lib Dem / Independent Controlled argues that the lack of public housing in Torbay, an increase in vacation rentals and rent increases make such a program necessary. He hopes the Richmond Hotel rental will give him some breathing space as he tries to find longer term accommodation across the bay.

Council chief Steve Darling (Liberal Democrats, Barton with Watcombe) said: “Torbay finds itself in an extremely difficult situation in terms of housing, with all segments of society having difficulty finding accommodation. Many families in temporary accommodation have to be relocated every two days or worse yet, be uprooted and moved to temporary accommodation outside the area as far as London and Bath.

“This temporary solution with the Richmond Hotel will help us protect the mental health and well-being of our families, while providing some stability and continuity in terms of education and employment.

Tara Harris, deputy director of community and client services, told the cabinet that the scale of the housing crisis and an expected increase in homelessness due to the “ripple effects” of the pandemic mean that the hotel itself would not be enough to provide permanent improvement to Bay’s housing crisis, but would provide much needed relief.

She said: “I don’t think anything is going to change, but it will give us a holding position while we can bring in more housing in April.”

“Access to social housing is not really a reality for the majority of people at the moment. We are still very much focused on the private rental sector due to the lack of housing.

It is believed that there are over 1,400 households waiting for affordable housing in the Bay, with demand quickly outstripping any new supply.

Speaking to cabinet, Councilor Chris Lewis (Tory, Preston) said the Tory opposition was “in principle” in favor of renting the hotel but had security concerns. He noted that hotel staff, touted by council as being in the hotel to provide 24/7 support, would not be adequately trained to deal with “problem people”. ‘they introduced themselves. He also wanted to make sure that there would be no single men placed in the hotel.

Ms Harris said she did not expect a need for additional security “due to the nature of the customer base” – families and key workers – but said it could be introduced if necessary. She added that there would be no single men in temporary accommodation in the hotel.

The Richmond Hotel will now apply for a planning permission for a temporary change of use for six months.

Last month, the council leadership divided the opinion of its coalition when it said it would not directly provide housing for Afghan refugees due to the housing shortage in the bay. He subsequently launched a campaign trying to encourage landlords to provide housing, but still says he will not provide social housing to refugees fleeing the Taliban.

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