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Cost for council’s temporary accommodation plan hikes by £600,000

PUBLISHED: 20:00 28 August 2018

The former care home in Sidegate Lane, which is being eyed to become temporary accomoddation for homeless people Picture: JASON NOBLE

The former care home in Sidegate Lane, which is being eyed to become temporary accomoddation for homeless people Picture: JASON NOBLE

Archant

Fresh questions have been raised over plans to convert an empty Ipswich care home into temporary accommodation, after costs escalated by £600,000.

Sidegate Care HomeSidegate Care Home

The divisive plans submitted by Ipswich Borough Council aim to turn the former 31-bed care home at 214 Sidegate Lane into a temporary accommodation facility for vulnerable adults.

The plans sparked fears among locals whose homes back onto the site, claiming it could impact on house prices, and attract drug or alcohol problems on what is a key pedestrian route for school children.

Now, it has emerged that a request has been put forward for a further £600,000 on top of the £1.1million already spent by the council on the facility.

The report said £150,000 would come from retained business rates while the remaining £450,000 is set to be borrowed.

Neil MacDonald, Ipswich Borough Council portfolio holder for housing, said: “Initial estimates were last year when we got the building and in that time the cost of construction has gone up.”

Mr MacDonald said that the contractor would be announced in September, with the borough council set to operate the facility.

He added: “We are still hopeful it will be open Spring next year.”

The borough council’s executive will discuss the matter at next week’s meeting, where it is expected to be approved.

The report said: “The Executive approval on 12th December 2017 included a provisional sum of £1,100,000 for bringing the property into use.

“This amount was indicative and as that report identified, was allocated before the detailed specification was produced in order to meet budget timescales.

“Now the design work is complete and actual tenders are known, further funding of £600,000 is needed. This is £500,000 for the conversion works and £100,000 for furnishings.”

Campaigners said they were not against plans for new accommodation but the Sidegate Lane site was not appropriate.

Despite the opposition, the plans were approved at the borough council’s planning committee in July, prompting calls of “shame on you” from the public benches.

One nearby resident, who wished not to be named, said the family had put their property on the market in a bid to sell before the development impacted house prices, and said other neighbours were doing the same.

“It doesn’t change any of the issues [raised before],” she said.

“It just means the rate payers are going to pay more for the privilege.”

She said the process had left a “sour taste” with homeowners, and added: “If you look on Rightmove or any of those other sites you can see how many people are leaving en masse.

“If you just drive around the area you can see the depth of feeling.”

Stephen Ion, Conservative councillor for the Rushmere ward, said: “I think people accept what the council has done is not unreasonable in trying to get a larger unit to reduce costs – that is something they are not against. I think the objection was the location.

“My concern is it would have been much better for the council to do that before it came in [for decision]. We need to know what they need the extra money for.”

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