Vacant Midlothian Council offices to be converted into homeless accommodation

The offices are above the Subway restaurant  at Jarnac Court.
The offices are above the Subway restaurant at Jarnac Court.

Midlothian Council is proposing to turn some of its soon to be vacant office space in Dalkeith into emergency temporary accommodation for homeless households.

It has been established that 20 individual rooms with shared facilities could be provided at Jarnac Court. These would be single person households with a small number for couples. There would also be housing support staff on site. Using Jarnac Court for homeless accommodation would result in an annual reduction in spend on bed and breakfast accommodation and provide a more supportive environment with assistance into employment, education or training opportunities.

This would cost £443,000 to set-up, but then saving the council an estimated £277,000 a year on bed and breakfast accommodation.

The council has been reducing the use of bed and breakfast accommodation, down from 80 households in 2016 to 45 households in December 2017, by converting vacant council buildings into temporary housing.

Cllr Stephen Curran (Lab), cabinet member for customer and housing services, said: “We currently have over 1000 homeless households on the Housing List. We need to make increased use of HMO properties in order to provide an alternative to bed and breakfast accommodation.

“This provides a more appropriate and better quality environment for homeless households and is also cost effective for the council.

“The current open plan layout of the Jarnac Court offices and the fact that they are on the upper floors means that the re-letting investment potential of the building is limited. This is therefore a great option for reuse.”

A consultation exercise will be undertaken prior to agreement on progressing with works and applying for an HMO License.

This accommodation could be open next year subject to obtaining the necessary consents and approvals.