A plan to convert shipping containers into houses for rough sleepers in Manchester has been recommended for approval by council planning officers.

Manchester Evening News reports that Manchester City Council’s planning committee is due to consider the plan, as well as other regeneration projects for the city, and planning officers have recommended approval for the scheme, despite some objections.

Local charity Embassy, along with developers Peel L&P and Capital & Centric plans to build 40 modular homes between the Bridgewater Canal and the River Irwell.

The permanent structures would be made from repurposed shipping containers and provide secure housing for the city’s homeless people, the partnership said. If the plans are approved, construction work would start in late summer and the first units would be available from 2022.

They will be built underneath railway arches at a derelict site in Hulme to the south of the city centre, and the development, named Embassy Village would aim to create a housing-led community with lots of communal and green space, mini-allotments to grow vegetables, and a multi-use sports area.

The charity would enrol residents into a six hours per week one-to-one training and mentoring programme to provide the support they need to leave the cycle of homelessness, reintegrate back into society and find work.

The training will help equip the homeless men with a range of new skills, which include shopping, budgeting, and cooking, as well as courses design to help unpack past traumas.

Embassy Village will operate as a housing provider rather than a shelter, according to the charity, with residents becoming paying tenants at the village from the first day of their stay.

The scheme is key to the charity’s post-lockdown initiative to help the city fight the persistently high rates of homelessness. According to government figures released in February this year, Manchester has the second-highest number of people sleeping rough in England.

Sid Williams, co-founder and director of Embassy said: “The big need in Manchester is to find a way to cut the time it takes for an individual to move on from homelessness. As residents will be renting their Embassy Village homes, we hope to instil a strong sense of empowerment from day one.”

Peel L&P’s executive director James Whittaker said it was fantastic to see the project moving forward, and with support from the local business community, the vision to help reduce the number of touch sleepers in the city by transforming unused land is now ‘one step closer to becoming reality.’

And Tim Heatley, co-founder of Capital & Centric, said: “From the Greater Homes Partnership to the Bed Every Night scheme, our city-region has led the way and made a real positive difference in battling homelessness.”

He said that the plans are a fantastic example of how Manchester can build back better post-pandemic, and added: “We’re creating a high-quality and green scheme that knocks it out of the park in terms of innovative design, but it’s the incredible work of Sid and the Embassy team that will build a community spirit and show how we look after our own in this city.”


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