A village hall in Whitehill & Bordon will be converted into homes for the homeless in a scheme that is thought to be a first in the UK. 

East Hampshire District Council plans to construct individual studios inside Pinewood Village Hall, on Rydal Close.  

The temporary structures, called pods, would provide much-needed accommodation for the district’s homeless. 

Cllr Julie Butler, EHDC’s Portfolio Holder for Welfare and Community Integration, said:

“There is a critical shortage of temporary accommodation within the district for single homeless people. 

“And since we started this project the scale of homelessness has increased significantly in the district, as well as across the country, as the pandemic has taken a toll on vulnerable people through unemployment, mental health and housing. 

“This is a brilliantly innovative way of alleviating a serious issue and finding comfortable, safe and supported accommodation for people that would otherwise be out of the system and forgotten. It also makes excellent use of a community building that is no longer serving a useful purpose. 

“Supporting the district’s most vulnerable people is a key priority of this council and I am delighted we have been able to launch a scheme that is thought to be one of a kind in this country.” 

At its meeting on Thursday night, the council’s Cabinet made £792,000 of Developer Contributions available to fund the scheme, to be delivered in partnership with Velocity RDT. 

Ten dwellings are planned overall, with seven contained in the existing building and three more in the garden. 

Once it is up and running – the project could be complete by mid-2022 – the site will be managed by the homelessness charity Two Saints, for an initial five-year period. Two Saints will provide management, support and maintenance services of the building. 

The design incorporates several innovative features, such as: 

  • photovoltaic solar panels generating renewable electricity for the benefit of residents and in support of climate change measures 
  • A sophisticated fire suppression system and alarm 
  • Building sensors to monitor the health of the building fabric  
  • CCTV to improve the safety, management and welfare of residents. 
  • Sedum roof – a plant that sits on a waterproof membrane and creates an attractive ‘living’ roof. 
Pinewood Hall pods pioneer way to help the homeless