New flats would be a ‘stepping stone’ for Leeds homeless

A rough sleeper pictured on the street,  just off Boar Lane, Leeds.
A rough sleeper pictured on the street, just off Boar Lane, Leeds.
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A homelessness charity is in talks with Leeds council bosses to buy out a long derelict piece of land and turn it into flats for people trying to get their lives back on track.

St George’s Crypt has been supporting the homeless in Leeds for 86 years and already runs various hostels, drop-ins and other projects across the city.

The main St George's Crypt building in Leeds

The main St George's Crypt building in Leeds

And now, as part of a wider drive to find new sites to expand its work , it is in negotiations with Leeds City Council to turn the former Liberal Club site in Hedley Chase, New Wortley, into 18 flats.

Initial estimates by council officers - unconfirmed by the charity - say the cost of the redevelopment will be around £2.4m, with around £580,000 of funding coming from the council via its Right to Buy Replacement Funding pot.

This is cash which the authority gets back from the sale of council homes, but has to spend with conditions and time limits set by the Government.

The original Liberal Club building was demolished more than a decade ago.

The site was put on the market last summer but did not attract any acceptable offers.

A new briefing report approved by senior Leeds City Council officers confirms the start of “one to one negotiations for the sale of the site to St George’s Crypt”.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “We’re currently talking to Leeds City Council about buying a site at Hedley Chase, New Wortley but it’s still very early days.

“The site is attractive to us because it’s in an accessible location, has been unused for many years and we feel it has the potential to be developed into ‘move on’ accommodation.

“If our negotiations are successful, it could give a number of our clients the opportunity to consolidate the progress they are making in their lives with a place to live that would offer stability and act as a stepping stone back to independent living, with the support of our experienced support team who will provide a range of cover for the site at all times.”

St George’s Crypt currently operates 32 units of accommodation in its hostels and “above the shop” accommodation in Armley. There are also 34 bed spaces in the Crypt for rough sleepers, and 836 separate individuals have been accommodated in the charity’s Care Centre.

The charity provides just under 10,000 nights of accommodation every year on average to people in need, and sees around 58 people daily at its drop-ins.

The YEP revealed earlier this month that 505 households were given accommodation after being declared as statutory homeless last year, while 13 people were sleeping rough.