What’s happening on site now? (December 2021)
You may notice activity on the old Hubberston School site as Evan Pritchard Contractors Ltd. carry out the remaining works to the pods, including drainage, water and electricity connections, lighting, fencing and sprinkler tank installation. We hope to have the pods up and running early in the New Year.
Was the demolition of the old school on the site safe in regards to releasing airborne asbestos?
Yes, the Local Authority have a legal obligation to remove all known asbestos before demolishing a building. The Local Authority held a management survey on the building and prior to it being demolished, a demolition survey was undertaken. Specialist surveyors identified all areas that asbestos was present and a soft strip took place with all asbestos removed and disposed of in a licenced facility. This was undertaken by the in house asbestos team, following the in house procedure and all work was done under permits. The building was cleared and air clearance certificates were awarded before the demolition took place.
When will the pods be up and running?
The pods were delivered in July 2021 and are currently being installed and kitted out. The original intention was for the Pods to be ready by October 2021, however, due to unavoidable problems with sourcing utility providers, the pods are now expected to be ready by the end of 2021.
Who is going to be living in the pods?
The pods will be allocated in accordance with homelessness legislation. For more information on homeless legislation please see: Shelter Cymru.The pods will be allocated to those with low-level support needs. The level of the individual’s needs will be assessed off site and those with a higher level of support needs will be accommodated on sites where this level of support will be available.
What is the need for the homeless pods and why has there been an increase in homeless customers in Pembrokeshire?
Following the start of the pandemic, the Welsh Government have enforced that Local Authorities must house anyone who presents as homeless. Previously those presenting had to first be assessed and then a decision would be made as to whether they were offered temporary accommodation. The number of those needing temporary accommodation has therefore increased massively, from being 82 households on 31 March 2020 to 207 households by September 2021. Following the pandemic there was also a surge in those ‘homeless at home’, those sofa surfing and being asked to leave by family and friends, as well as an increase in relationship breakdowns due to Covid restrictions. The Welsh Government expectation is that Local Authorities continue to house all those presenting as homeless until told otherwise and therefore the pressure to source temporary accommodation is expected to continue.
How long will the pods be on the Hubberston site?
The pods can be temporarily located at the Hubberston site under planning permitted development allowance for a period of 12 months after which time, further planning permission would need to be obtained, which is something that is likely we will need to explore. However, it remains our long-term intention to build additional social housing on this site, and the siting of the pods there is a temporary interim arrangement due to the shortage of one bed temporary accommodation.
Why were the community not consulted?
We are currently in the midst of a housing crisis. Following the new legislation from Welsh Government, the large increase of homeless presentations put an immense pressure onto our housing stock and temporary accommodation options. B&B’s have heavily been relied upon during the pandemic but options are now running out and very limited. It is expected for local authorities to create temporary accommodation solutions and we needed to act quickly in order to secure Welsh Government funding. Pods as a temporary solution were decided on as it was a condition of Welsh Government funding, that the accommodation had to be something that was already constructed prior to being delivered on site. The pods also provide potential for use on other sites in future. The Hubberston location was chosen for the pods as this site was vacant and had a large area of flat ground. The site allowed for the right number of pods without stacking pods on top of each other, which would prevent access for disabled users.
We understand that the community have concerns about the pods being sited in Hubberston and we are keen to work with community members throughout the duration of this process. We will be holding a series of open day sessions for members of the public to book onto to have a look inside the pods and speak to staff members about their concerns or queries. If you are interested in attending the open day, please contact us either via Facebook or email housingCLO@pembrokeshire.gov.uk with your name and contact details.
What should we do if there is Anti-Social Behaviour caused by pod residents?
We will have a single point of contact for residents to log any concerns they may have surrounding anti-social behaviour or anything else. The email address for this will be housingCLO@pembrokeshire.gov.uk. There will be CCTV on site so that any anti-social behaviour can be monitored and there will also initially be 24 hour support onsite for both pod residents and as a contact point for residents to the local area.
Where will the 24 hour support stay overnight?
It is hoped that a smaller pod will be utilised on site as an office space for support.
There is a lack of privacy for houses backing onto the site. What are PCC going to do?
A perimeter fence is going erected around the site in order to maintain privacy of local residents and residents of the pods. The fence has not been erected because when developing sites, fencing is normally one of the last things to be installed to avoid obstructing access for necessary works to be completed and also to maximise its lifespan. It is hoped that the fence will be installed towards the end of 2021 but will be in place before any occupants move in.
What is the legal distance a building should be from other boundaries?
There is no legal distance a building must be from the boundary of the site it is located on, and each development is looked at individually. The factors that are normally taken into account include the height of the new building, how close existing buildings are to the boundary and whether there is an impact on the natural light those existing buildings will receive. The pods are single storey, roughly 4 meters from the existing boundary and there is quite a distance from the boundary to the neighbouring buildings.
Is there any more information available?
Yes, please visit previous press releases we have shared regarding the pods and information about another site in Milford Haven who already utilise homeless pods.
Siting of temporary homeless pods at former Hubberston school in response to rising numbers
Pembrokeshire Care Society
PCC said there were only going to be eight units at the site so why are there more than this?
Each pod is made up of two units as Welsh Government specified that we needed to provide a separate living/kitchen area to the bedroom space.
What involvement has the community had so far?
We are really excited to show you the results of a joint project between Milford Haven Comprehensive school, PCC and National Theatre Wales. An online community meeting was also held for residents to ask any questions or voice any concerns on 29/09/2021. We hope to continue to offer residents the opportunity to speak to us and ask us questions whenever possible.
Will more pods be purchased to help provide that essential bridge to permanent homes in more locations around our county?
We have been fortunate to secure Welsh Government funding for these eight pods. Any further pods being purchased would be dependent on this funding being made available again.
Why do the pods not look like the picture in the original press release?
Our pods are single storey, as opposed to the two storeys shown in the picture, in order to make the pods accessible to all. We will be cladding our pods soon so they will look more like this picture when they are finished.
What works need to be done on site now to get the pods up and running?
There is work to be done, such as grass cutting, before we can erect fencing to provide security and a level of privacy for both pod residents and residents whose properties back on to the site. Utilities need to be installed so the pods have access to electricity, heating and water. Security measures are being set up to ensure the site is safe and secure. Please bear with us in whilst we install the pods and carry out works to the site. We want to reassure the community that the site, as it is currently, is not how it will remain as it is a work in progress.
What is the joint project between Milford Haven Comprehensive, PCC and National Theatre Wales?
National Theatre Wales approached PCC’s Housing department regarding a project they were working on with 17 pupils from Milford Haven Comprehensive. The topic of the project was homelessness so when they saw that PCC were installing pods for homeless customers on the Hubberston site, the young people were very keen to do something to make the site welcoming for them and to provide them with something useful. It was agreed that a colourful, artistic mural would make the site look welcoming and a cook book for each pod would give them a homely feel and help give them ideas for healthy meals on a budget.
They worked with an artist to create the mural and a chef to create recipes for the cook book. The cook book features a series of recipes that will cost about £20 per week which we will also be sharing with all of our other tenants.
We will be doing a handover in September when school restarts and we cannot wait to see the finished mural and cookbooks the young people have worked hard to produce for our pod residents.
When is the open day?
A date is yet to be confirmed for the open day due to delays on site, making it inaccessible at current. However, an open day will be held nearer to the date of completion. To register you interest in attending the open day, please email housingCLO@pembrokeshire.gov.uk or message us on Facebook
What will be in each pod?
One pod is made up of two container units joined together. One side has the kitchen and living area and the other side has a bedroom and separate bathroom.
The living area will have a 2 seater sofa, small dining table and chairs and TV. The kitchen will have a cooker/hob, microwave, kettle and fridge freezer.
The bathroom will contain a shower, toilet and wash hand basin. The bedroom will have a double bed and some storage.
We received concerns from members of the public about using this type of accommodation to house the homeless, therefore we were keen to get some feedback from our homeless customers to get their thoughts/perceptions of living in one of our self-contained units. This is what they said:
‘I think they are an excellent idea. The cladding will make them look more appealing and homely.’
‘I think they look really nice inside! And fine from the front with the windows - whilst not as aesthetically pleasing as a house, the nature of what a pod is means that looking a bit prefab is unavoidable. If they want to make them look more welcoming, maybe nice colourful curtains would help.’
‘They are looking great so far. I feel they need some privacy- like fencing. A communal area and some landscaping would be great.’
‘More privacy, I notice the surrounding buildings can see into the field quiet easily, would be worth to get fencing to protect the privacy of the residents at the containers.’
‘I think the council should continue engaging with the local community and keep them informed about what’s happening in the Pods. There is a stigma around temporary accommodation, clearly shown by the negative press around them, and I think this is a perfect opportunity to open up a dialogue with all communities across Pembrokeshire and tackle this.’
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