Manchester-based charity Embassy plans to create 40 modular homes made from repurposed shipping containers to provide secure housing for the city’s homeless people, in partnership with developers Peel L&P and Capital & Centric.
Embassy Village would be located on a self-contained, currently derelict site owned by Peel L&P, below the railway arches between the Bridgewater Canal and River Irwell in Manchester city centre. Capital & Centric is advising on the delivery of the scheme and Jon Matthews Architects is the designer. The full project team, which provided its services to Embassy pro bono, is detailed below.
The aim is to create a new community to help the city’s homeless and vulnerable men get back on their feet. The modular units created from shipping containers would be transformed into safe, secure homes and the charity would provide 24-hour on-site security, as well as wraparound support of at least six hours per week to each resident to help them identify training and routes to work to break the cycle of homelessness.
Residents would also be taught a range of life skills including shopping and budgeting, cooking and how to manage a home, and be offered a course to help them unpack past traumas and boost self-confidence.
Embassy Village would feature a ‘village hall’ that would serve as a community hub, training and mentoring facility, communal outdoor space with greenery, a multi-use sports area, space to grow vegetables, and external eating and socialising areas.
The charity has launched a consultation today and aims to submit a planning application to the city council in the coming months.
Sid Williams, co-founder and director of Embassy, said: “This pandemic has further strained the resources of the poorest in our society and we sadly expect to see homelessness increase. We recently housed a chap who spent seven years going from shelter to shelter waiting for his golden ticket to a council flat – it never came.
“Our approach is to provide rented housing and formally end homelessness from day one. We aim to get people into full-time work and private rental sector housing, rather than council housing and benefits.
“We interview everyone we assist and what we look for is a willingness to make progress, learn and, where possible, to work. The Village will provide residents with their own front door and teach them the life skills they need to become independent and start contributing to society again.”
Embassy was set up in 2019, converting a luxury tour bus in Manchester into an emergency shelter and support centre to help people get off the street, housed and into work.
The plans come amid the closure of many of the city’s dormitory-style shelters due to lockdown and social distancing measures, and growing concerns across frontline charities that there will be an increased need for homelessness support and temporary accommodation services as a result of the pandemic.
The Embassy Village project would be delivered as part of the Greater Manchester Housing First programme, a three-year pilot that aims to provide safe, secure homes for more than 400 people who are homeless or at risk of becoming so.
James Whittaker, executive director at Peel L&P, added: “It’s been a real joy and a privilege to bring together the business community to deliver a special project to reduce Manchester’s homelessness by transforming our land beneath some railway arches in the city into much-needed housing for the homeless.
“We’re proud to be able to provide the land…and hope to gain further support needed during the consultation period.”
Tim Heatley, co-founder of Capital & Centric and chair of the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity, said: “We’ve worked with Embassy for the last few years, helping them to get the original bus off the ground, but we’ve always had the vision to create something more permanent that gives people their own front door.
“Making sure it’s really high quality, with communal areas like the village hall and sports area, has been super important as we want the future residents to be proud of their community.”
Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese added: “Meeting the growing demand for emergency accommodation to support people vulnerable to homelessness is a major challenge – particularly at this time of year when the number of people asking for support, particularly people sleeping rough, is at its height.
“Developing a Housing First opportunity in the city is welcome and I hope this type of community has the potential to provide life-changing help for people facing homelessness in Manchester.”
The project team, which provided its services pro bono, includes:
Planner – Deloitte Real Estate
Architect – Jon Matthews Architects
Civil and Structural Engineer – Curtins
Quantity Surveyors – Arcadis
Transport Engineer – Curtins
Mechanical and Electrical Engineer – Crookes Walker
Fire Engineer – OFR
Acoustic Engineer – Fisher Acoustics
Landscape Architect – Planit-i.e
CDMC / PD – CDMC Services
Building Control – Ball and Berry
Sustainability – Element Sustainability
Graphics – Our Studio
Construction Logistics Support – Balfour Beatty