Deal edges closer for site of shipping container homes in Brighton

A developer’s plans to replace the refurbished shipping container homes in Brighton with permanent housing were given a boost last night (Thursday 7 October).

Senior councillors authorised officials to finalise negotiations over a 250-year lease to be granted to QED Estates.

The council owns part of the Richardson’s Yard site while QED owns the rest and the deal could lead to the building of 64 affordable homes there.

But the former homeless people living in the 36 old shipping containers should not be forced into unacceptable housing when the site is redeveloped, councillors said.

The refurbished containers have temporary planning permission and are due to be removed by May 2023.

Labour members asked Brighton and Hove City Council to protect those living in the container homes in New England Road, Brighton.

They were concerned about them being “thrown to the wolves” as the council’s Policy and Resources Committee discussed the future of the site.

The plot, known as Richardson’s Yard, includes a scrap metal yard as well as land where the Cobbler’s Thumb pub once stood, by the corner of New England Road and New England Street.

Labour councillor Daniel Yates asked the committee to back protections for the current residents to make sure that any move would not have a “detrimental effect”.

He also asked councillors to commit to providing future homes for the shipping container tenants at social rents which are lower than affordable rents.

Councillor Yates said that the New England Quarter had changed over the past 15 to 20 years and the corner plot had deteriorated and become “less welcoming”.

He said: “We want to see affordable housing provided on this site and, ideally, we want to see affordable housing at social rents because that should be our ambition for the city as far as possible out of publicly owned assets such as this.

“We want to see the economic benefits that the mixed use can deliver from this site and the improved environmental benefits of redeveloping this site which is, let’s face it, not in the best state possible at the moment.”

Councillor Yates said that the people living in the containers had formed a community and should not be “cast aside for the sake of redevelopment” but provided with good-quality alternative homes.

Another Labour councillor, Gill Williams, backed the call for social rents and said that Brighton and Hove did not need more homes that people could not afford to live in.

Councillor Williams also said: “We do not want these people cast into the private rental sector and just fed to the wolves out there. I don’t think that’s going to help any of them. They’ll end up homeless.”

Martin Reid, the council’s interim assistant director of housing, said that BHT Sussex, which manages the site, had a “decant strategy”. And the council would oversee this to ensure that the housing on offer was suitable.

Green councillor Tom Druitt said that everything that Labour councillors had asked for was central to discussions with officials, adding: “There are sites identified for the residents of the New England Street site.

“We want to have the best rents we can possibly manage on those sites. That depends a little bit in terms of how much funding support we can get for those developments.

“They are absolutely going to be as affordable as they can be.”

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