Homeless hostel in line for £4.5m transformation

PLANS for a new £4.5million homeless hostel in Aberdeen city centre will be discussed by councillors next week.

Disused Victoria House could be transformed into a 30-bed development to address a chronic shortage of homeless accommodation in the city.

En suite residential care units would also be built at the site in West North Street, offering support for those with alcohol and drug abuse problems.

A total of 20 mixed-size flats are also included in the plans, as well as an open-plan office for 30 staff who will be on hand day and night to offer support on health, nutrition, education, training issues.

The team would also be able to assist those looking for accommodation in the future.

A report giving a progress update on the possible development will be discussed at Tuesday’s housing and environment committee meeting.

The committee previously approved the proposal to build the purpose-built centre at Victoria House, as a “long-term” solution in tackling homelessness.

The council is currently in breach of housing laws because of its lack of accommodation for homeless people.

The report, written by new projects officer Kenny Paterson, states: “Property consultant Robinson Low Francis (RFL) was commissioned by Aberdeen City Council to undertake a feasibility study on four different properties under council ownership to determine which properties best meet the council’s needs to provide temporary accommodation to persons presenting themselves as homeless.

“The feasibility report produced by the consultants recommended the redevelopment of Victoria House as a long-term solution to meet the statutory requirements of the homelessness service by increasing the supply of temporary accommodation for people who find themselves homeless in the city.

Victoria House, which was formerly used as a social work hostel, closed its doors in 2003.

The two-part site, comprising a three-storey house and a single-storey church hall, has fallen into disrepair, and council officials believe it would have to be partially demolished to be developed to its “full potential”.

The cost of the development, including demolition, is estimated at about £4,420,000.

Last month, the council abandoned plans for a homeless hostel at Tillydrone amid hundreds of objections from local residents.

The authority took itself to court over the plans to turn Aberdon House into a hostel, but ditched the scheme just a week later.

Housing bosses launched the court action after a decision by councillors in May to refuse a special licence for the proposed unit at Aberdon House.

More than 132 people objected to the proposed hostel and were invited to appear as witnesses in court.

The council is also proposing to convert the former St Fittick’s Hostel at Torry and the former Oakbank School into accommodation.

Meanwhile, homeless people are being housed in hotels and bed-and-breakfast accommodation.