Town hall chiefs back £3m purchase of Plaistow property for rough sleeper centre

Lady Helen Seymour House

Newham Council wants to base a rough sleeper centre at Lady Helen Seymour House. - Credit: Jon King

Plans to open a hub for rough sleepers are a step closer after town hall chiefs approved the £3million purchase of a property in Plaistow.

Councillors from Newham Council's cabinet voted unanimously in favour of buying Lady Helen Seymour House in Florence Road at a meeting on Tuesday, April 13.

Cllr Zulfiqar Ali, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said the centre would provide excellent accommodation with the property being ideal for the purpose.

Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz said: "It has been really agonising trying to find an appropriate site.

"It's going to be a real game-changer in terms of our approach to rough sleepers."

Under the plan, which would rename the building The Centre of Excellence Assessment Centre, rough sleepers' needs would be assessed while they are given up to 12 weeks of support.

Outside agencies such as GPs, substance misuse and mental health services would use the site to provide wraparound health and care support.

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The aim is also to bring training, employment and education opportunities into the building.

Asked how the neighbourhood would benefit, Cllr Ali said those staying at the centre - which would accommodate 42 people - will boost the local economy.

Cllr Ali said: "We want to create an environment of harmony where people live together, work together and we want them to feel part of the community so they can be supported and don't feel neglected.

"It's financially viable and in an environment that will be very supportive locally."

The council expects the move to save money, with tenants' housing benefit expected to generate enough to cover borrowing costs and what is needed to run the centre.

The current cost to Newham of placing 42 rough sleepers in hostels is about £17,000 per person. Through the project, Newham expects to save £714,000 a year.

Lady Helen Seymour House front door

Up to £3.2m will be set aside for the purchase from L&Q. - Credit: Jon King

Up to £3.2million will be set aside for "substantial" refurbishment work and to buy the property from current owner, housing giant L&Q.

The building has previously been used to provide vulnerable children and adults with temporary accommodation.

Newham reports reducing rough sleeping from 64 to six since 2019 - the highest proportionate drop in London.