‘Shanty town’ hall is still closed up

By Jon Walker   |   Senior reporter   |
Wednesday 25th August 2021 8:30 am
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After more than a year, work still hasn’t begun on Pinewood hall ()

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A LINDFORD councillor has branded boarded up Pinewood Village Hall an “eyesore” as a costly plan to install ‘living pods’ for the homeless appears to have stalled.

In July 2020 innovator Velocity RDT received planning permission to convert the rundown hall in Rydal Close into emergency accommodation for the homeless.

This was on behalf of East Hampshire District Council (EHDC), and it’s believed the council was to pay about £600,000 for the project to be completed.

Lib Dem Lindford parish and district councillor Neville Taylor voted against the idea last July.

He said: “The project was given to a company to sort out and so far nothing has happened on the ground.

“It’s an eyesore, it’s still boarded up and looks like a building in a shanty town.

“The rest of the town is being modernised, or is new, and then there is Pinewood village hall – it’s not being used, nothing is happening there, it looks a mess.

“I voted against the idea because of the access to the car park and hall, not because of what it was going to be used for.

“The planning application said there was no longer a need for a community hall there as all that type of facility was being built in the new town regeneration.”

The district council houses homeless people and families in costly bed-and-breakfast boarding houses, often out of the district.

Turning Pinewood hall into a homeless hub would save that ongoing cost, and the Velocity RDT proposal was viewed as an ideal solution.

Their so-called ‘Haauus’ concept has been developed by former Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur Simon Poyser.

The company has previously created habitable pods within disused commercial buildings for key workers in London.

But Pinewood would be the first time it has sought to provide alternative temporary accommodation for the homeless.

In a statement EHDC said it is still committed to adapting Pinewood Village Hall into emergency homeless persons’ accommodation with ten self-contained homes, taking advantage of its access to public services and facilities.

The plans met with some delays during the pandemic but cabinet discussions are on the agenda, added the council.

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