This House of Windsor has far from palatial accommodation

Such is the scale of the homelessness crisis in Croydon that the Labour-run council – which last month blocked future “permitted developments” of offices being converted into flats – is to utilise a third ex-office block to provide short-term accommodation.

Home sweet home: Windsor House, soon to be rented by Croydon Council to provide nearly 200 homes

Home sweet home: Windsor House, soon to be rented by Croydon Council to provide 149 homes

Alison Butler, the deputy leader of the council, earlier this year described the under-sized flats provided by developers in many of these office conv- ersions as “the slums of the future”.

But a Town Hall meeting on Monday week will see Butler and her colleagues proposing to use Windsor House, an unprepossessing 1960s office block in Norbury, to provide 149 housing units, the majority being “studio apartments”, each furnished with three beds. Did anyone mention rabbit hutches?

The council has already taken up accommodation in Concord and Sycamore Houses in Thornton Heath, to use instead of placing families in costly and controversial B&Bs.

This latest move certainly will not provide any royal-standard homes in Croydon’s version of the House of Windsor.

Chop, chop: this is how you break up a 1960s office block into 149 'bijou' apartments

Chop, chop: this is how you break up a 1960s office block into 149 ‘bijou’ apartments

According to a report submitted by council officials ahead of Monday’s meeting on Windsor House: “The conversion will provide a total of 149 units of accommodation split between 140 studio apartments and 2 x two and 7 x three-bed flats. This may however be subject to slight modification over the final number and precise mix of units depending on fire and building control requirements. The rent may therefore be amended slightly to reflect the precise make up of unit numbers.

“Any changes are expected to be minimal and do not affect the suitability of the building from a temporary housing point of view.

“Each unit will be self-contained with a shower room and kitchenette and will be fully furnished by the developer to include one single and a pair of bunk beds.”

Inside Windsor House before conversion: how many flats can you squeeze in?

Inside Windsor House before conversion: how many flats can you squeeze in?

Far from ideal, the council appears to feel it has no alternative when confronted with a near-doubling in the past 10 years of the number of people presenting themselves on the Town Hall steps as homeless.

According to a Freedom of Information response provided to Tom Chance, the Green Party’s housing spokesman, 1,822 people presented themselves as homeless to the council in the 12 months to September 2015. That is up from 1,081 10 years earlier.

Significantly, of those rendered homeless in the past year, one-third were seeking new accommodation because their profit-hungry private landlords had kicked them out in pursuit of higher rents, leaving the hard-pressed local authority to pick up the pieces.

According to the council’s FoI response, 525 were homeless after the termination of their assured shorthold tenancies. That’s up more than six-fold, from 85 in September 2006 – an indication of how landlords are handing out notices to quit to their tenants so that they can then rack up to “market levels” the rents that they charge, to levels which many ordinary working Croydon families often cannot afford.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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2 Responses to This House of Windsor has far from palatial accommodation

  1. croydonres says:

    Maybe, having a lot of families in one block will allow the council to have control over their environment, and provide a better, more appropriate accommodation. Sending people to B&Bs can’t be a good solution.

    I would like to think, and sincerely hope, that the council will have the sense to use this as an opportunity, to assess people’s language skills perhaps, provide child care and child care health advice – you name it – it could be easier and better than just farm all these families out (of sight, and mind) into miscellaneous B&Bs.

    So, maybe – if managed well – this could be far better for the adults and children involved.

    Do we know if this is likely, or just my pie-in-the-sky hopes?

  2. This building has been a building site for some time, no adverts for flats have appeared (unlike the office block next door! ex Age concern) but new windows have gone in over the last couple of weeks the spacing looks like it will contain small flats (also known as ‘luxury’ apartments)

    Hmm will they change the name to petrol station view!

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