A FORMER homeless hostel once blighted by crime in Barnsley town centre has had its long-term future secured after a 125-year lease was agreed this week to enable its transformation, the Chronicle can reveal.
Grade II-listed Holden House and adjacent Holden Court, on Race Street, were in operation as hostels from 1994, both part of a 60-year lease with Riverside Housing Group.
However, the lease has effectively been axed in favour of a 125-year alternative which was agreed by ruling cabinet members this week, and Riverside will remain in place to oversee Barnsley Council’s plans.
The service - which was for homeless people with complex needs - was decommissioned as a result of costs and crime by then-provider West Yorkshire CRC - but since then the council has put in place a new support service for people with complex needs, run by a company called Humankind.
A report said: “As a result of the decision to terminate the contract (with WYCRC) commissioners took the opportunity to consider an alternative model to support the most complex vulnerable adults.
“A waiver was approved to issue a company called Humankind with a contract to support this client group. In July 2018, commissioners submitted a request for capital and revenue funding to support the changes required to decommission Holden House and Holden Court.
“The funding request was for revenue to support the mobilisation of a new service at the same time as the old service was closing. It was also for the purchase of properties to enable the new model to work.”
Holden House has 28 units and rather than leave it empty is currently available for rent to professionals who act as guardians - people from professional backgrounds such as nurses - who occupy the accommodation. The 14 flats to the building’s rear are also rented out.
Jayne Hellowell, head of commissioning and healthier communities at the council, said: “We want to move away from the stigma that’s been historically attached to this facility as it’s a lovely building and positive plans have been put in place.
“To have it empty in the long-term wouldn’t be a good move as currently crime and antisocial behaviour isn’t a problem in that location.
“Cabinet members previously approved a £475,000 capital investment package which will go towards buying up housing in suitable areas, effectively acting as the final destination in the council’s drive to create better accommodation for those in need.
“The new model for people with complex needs works in a number of different ways, we have assessment beds at Beevor Court where people can stay for up to 12 weeks while it’s decided what type of support they require.
“When clients are ready to move on, that’s where the new housing stock comes in. We are currently working with a range of partners to take the model forward.”