An innovative approach to preventing homelessness, supported by multiple stakeholders, has received full planning permission from Stratford-on-Avon Borough Council.
The former Fred Winter furniture store at 41 Guild Street, Stratford, is set to be a mixed-use scheme encompassing a food bank, café, flexible office/meeting space, specialised accommodation and communal space.
It will be known as the Fred Winter Housing Plus Centre, and will offer high quality accommodation and ‘joined-up’ services for people who are homeless or who are at risk of homelessness, and is on target to be up and running by January 2021.
The ground-breaking project to convert the three-story building is by charity Spring Housing Association, with planning, landscape and design services from leading consultants Pegasus Group.
James Walch, Director at Pegasus Group’s Birmingham office, said: “Our greatest success on this project was meeting the needs of a large number of stakeholders through a process of collaboration.
“We were able to deliver a scheme that that not only implemented the expectations of the multiple stakeholders, but also took into account the feedback received following a very extensive public consultation phase.
“It was an extremely rewarding project to be a part of, the first hub of its kind offering a mixed-use with all support services together under one roof.”
Pegasus Group continues to provide a full architectural service, having recently completed the technical design and tender stages of the project and are set to supervise on site until completion. Work is due to start in July with a target completion of the end of January 2021.
Dominic Bradley, CEO of Spring Housing Association, said: “At Spring we are really excited about the Fred Winter Centre. It has brought together a network of organisations formed to work towards the aims and values with a single ambition to end homelessness in Stratford, while creating positive social networks and ensuring there are genuine training and career opportunities which we truly believe offer positive long term impacts for people that have experienced homelessness locally.
“In Pegasus Group we found a design team that was able to work in collaboration with a wide range of organisations both statutory and voluntary, but perhaps most importantly, work with people who have had personal experience of homelessness in order to co-produce design solutions together.”
The location of the site is within Stratford-upon-Avon Conservation Area, close to many listed buildings. Stratford is recognised as one of the country’s leading tourist destinations, and 41 Guild Street sits in the centre of the town’s retail and leisure core with the town’s main pedestrianised street and Shakespeare Centre within walking distance.
The development over three floors will include 14 one-bedroom apartments and 1 two-bedroom apartment, all of which will be within the private areas of the development.
The planning application was approved under delegated powers, but in a report officers said: “It is clear from the application submissions that the different uses within the building will have a symbiotic relationship, each bringing connections to the others to the overall benefit of the scheme.
“The Fred Winter Centre will primarily provide the ‘joined-up’ services for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in a collaborative and collective approach. This will in turn help prevent homelessness, assist social integration, support people to secure and maintain accommodation, and improve health and well-being.”
Partners signed up to the Fred Winter Centre include:
- Stratford on Avon District Council
- Spring Housing Association
- Orbit Housing Association
- Stratford Foodbank
- St Basils (working with young people to prevent homelessness)
- P3 (support in the community for adults and housing)
- Springfield MIND
- Change Grow Live (advice and information relating to drugs and alcohol)
- Citizens Advice South Warwickshire
- Job Centre Plus/DWP
- The Link Project
James Walch added: “Everyone on board would love to see the centre set a precedent, and if successful act as a model for other locations.
“The unanimous support from the LPA was pleasing, as it confirmed that the scheme put forward is a well thought-out, viable asset set to assist with the prevention of homelessness in Stratford that will bring back into use a vacant retail unit in the town centre.”
Pegasus Group is a national consultancy with more than 330 employees across 14 offices in the UK and Ireland with experience across all sectors of the development industry including planning, design, environment, economics and heritage.