HOMELESS people and rough sleepers could be housed in new purpose-built accommodation pods at Weymouth’s Park and Ride site, under plans unveiled today.
The site contains 1,000 car parking spaces and is currently being used as a mobile coronavirus testing site where residents carry out Covid-19 tests in their vehicles.
The Bus Shelter Dorset – a charity which supports homeless and vulnerable people – has applied for the temporary use of land for the stationing of mobile accommodation units for rough sleepers and associated facilities within the park and ride site.
The charity aims to lease a section of the Mount Pleasant site, based off Mercury Road, from Dorset Council.
It wants to place three purpose-built mobile units, each split into four individual self-contained rooms, for people to live inside within the overflow car park. In total, 12 flats would be created.
Each room would contain electricity and water, along with a bed, toilet facilities, shower, wall sockets and coat hooks. A communal social area, kitchen and learning centre would also be created.
A bus used by the charity, which has previously been used for homeless accommodation, would be repurposed into an office facility for meetings, interviews and storage.
The charity explains its goal is ‘to relieve the need of people who are rough sleeping in Dorset by providing shelter, warmth, food and support’.
A planning application describes rough sleeping as ‘a dangerous and isolating experience’ as well as being detrimental to a person’s mental and physical health.
If the charity gains further funding, it outlined plans for another five mobile accommodation units to the south of the compound, which would be configured into more self-contained micro flats.
Bus Shelter Dorset’s scheme has been successful elsewhere in Dorset. It helped house some people at The Riviera Hotel during the first lockdown and is currently operating from Swanage Youth Hostel.
A charity spokesman said the plans are aimed to rebuild the lives of vulnerable people and offer support and confidence to assist them to get their own home and employment.
The planning design and access statement reads: “As with the former use of the bus, the individual accommodation pods would provide first stop accommodation for rough sleepers and those at risk of rough sleeping, with guests being referred to the Bus by Dorset Council, The Lantern Trust and Julian House, affording them the opportunity to reflect on their life and future aspirations.
“The micro flats would offer both aspiration and an opportunity for guests to become more independent whilst continuing to receive arms-length support on site from the team familiar to them and with whom they have built trusting relationships.”
People staying within the flats would be banned from smoking indoors and there would also be a ban on alcohol or drugs on the compound or immediate surrounding area. The charity said that any guests that misbehaved would be warned and potentially evicted.
The accommodation would allow guests to have a registered address so they can apply for work or register with a GP. Guests would also be required to engage with staff and set realistic and individual goals and participate in regular support reviews.
The charity states the stay in a micro flat should make individuals feel confident to live independently and away from the charity’s community. If a stay in a micro flat proves unsuccessful, guests could be re-integrated back into one of the individual accommodation units, rather than returning to rough sleeping in the area.
Comments on the applications are currently welcome from the public. You can view the plans online through the council’s planning application site and search for application number WP/20/00814/FUL.