Proposals launched to convert Dalkeith office into homeless shelter

Proposals have been put on show to the public to convert the office to a homeless shelter.
Proposals have been put on show to the public to convert the office to a homeless shelter.
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A disused Midlothian Council office building could be turned into much-needed temporary homeless accommodation following a public consultation.

The offices in Jarnac Court, Dalkeith, could be converted into a safe place to stay for homeless residents in need of somewhere to live while in search of permanent accommodation.

Part of the building is currenly used by the council but it will no longer be needed by 2019.

Before Midlothian Council make the decision, they have invited locals to attend a drop-in information session which will take place at Dalkeith Arts Centre to view the proposals and comment on the plans.

The event will showcase proposals to turn the upper two floors of the office building into residential accommodation.

Plans have already been presented to Midlothian Council outlining the benefits of the project. #

As well as being more supportive to local people, the office conversion will be more cost-effective than using bed and breakfast accommodation for homeless households.

Up to September 2017, Midlothian Council spent over £1 million on bed and breakfast accommodation in 2016/2017, with Department of Work and Pensions benefit payment of £691,499.62.

A Dalikeith and District community council spokesman said: “The Community Council welcomes any action that seeks to improve the conditions for the homeless and will listen to all stakeholders involved and affected by this proposal.

“The proposal will be discussed with the relevant Midlothian Council official at our next meeting on 14 August and we will ensure we feed into the public meeting two days later.”

Cllr Stephen Curran, Midlothian Council cabinet member with responsibility for housing, said: “We want to consult with local residents and get some feedback on the opportunity to re-use an empty council building, while providing quality services for homeless households. Homelessness can happen to anyone at any point in their life for a variety of reasons and Midlothian Council needs to make sure accommodation is provided in the right places to meet the needs of homeless people.

“Residents are welcome to come along to these informative sessions to have their say.”

The drop-in event will provide an opportunity to look at the plans and find out more about what the project aims to do.

New Scottish Government statistics show thousands of households in Scotland depend on temporary accommodation for extended lengths of time.

On average, households spent 171 days – just under 6 months – in temporary accommodation in 2017/18. The findings indicate it is imperative that local councils provide good quality accommodation to limit the amount of time families spend “in limbo”.

The report states: “It’s crucial that the time, described as being ‘stuck in limbo’, is kept to a minimum and that new legally enforceable standards are introduced as soon as possible to ensure that temporary accommodation, where its use is necessary, is of a good quality and provides that positive stepping stone into permanent accommodation.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com