Empty Winchester property to become shared accommodation for refugees

The empty property of 59 Colebrook Street, neighbouring the council offices, will have six private rooms, four wash rooms, a shared space and additional bike storage.

The planning committee approved the plans to transform the building, which has been vacant since the summer of 2021, into temporary accommodation for Ukrainian and Afghan refugees at a meeting on Wednesday, March 13.

The City of Winchester Trust had previously objected to the application due to a lack of communal areas. However, council officer Cameron Taylor explained that plans exceed the shared space requirements for a house in multiple occupation (HMO).

READ MORE: Winchester City Council £600k plan to refurbish refugee home

The city council agreed £610,000 for the work in November.

Councillor Chris Westwood, cabinet member for housing, said: “Homelessness is growing in this county and in Winchester. We need more temporary accommodation to meet the demand. This will plan will reduce the need for emergency accommodation and provide a better housing option for our guests who would otherwise be threatened by homelessness. This is a sound investment for Winchester City Council.”

Hampshire Chronicle: Cllr Chris Westwood speaking at the meetingCllr Chris Westwood speaking at the meeting (Image: Newsquest)

Applicant Mitchell Cowan, a corporate building surveyor at the city council, highlighted the benefits of the central location, with strong transport links and Winchester’s resettlement team being based next door.

Cllr Danny Lee, committee member, said: “This obviously provides essential temporary accommodation. I’m very happy to support it.”

SEE ALSO: Winchester City Council decision due for 59 Colebrook Street plan

Fellow member, Cllr Russell Gordon-Smith, said: “I have always been saddened by 59 Colebrook Street. It’s in a right old state. Every month the bill for fixing it is going to get bigger and bigger and that’s right in the heart of our city. I’m really glad to see that it’s being sorted out.

“We’ve got this really big housing problem. I’m very pleased to see it being brought back into use and it meets HMO standards.”

The external appearance of the property will not change and bins will be kept at the back, not on the street. Residents will also have access to a private courtyard.

Concerns were raised over the increased use of water but as the property has previously been used as a HMO for a similar number of people, the issue was dismissed.

The application was approved unanimously by the committee.

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