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Housing

Prince William to build social housing in his back garden to help end homelessness

The future king is building 24 social homes in Nansledan in Cornwall as part of his five-year Homewards programme hoping to end homelessness for good

Prince William has unveiled plans to build social homes for homeless people as the next stage in his bid to end homelessness for good.

The future king confirmed 24 homes will be built on Duchy of Cornwall land in Nansledan, Cornwall, for people experiencing homelessness who will also receive wraparound support.

The project comes after William launched Homewards last year with The Big Issue as a partner. The ambitious project focuses on developing six local projects around the UK to develop workable solutions to tackle rising homelessness.

“Across the UK, the lack of truly affordable homes is causing homelessness and results in hundreds of thousands of people living in poor quality temporary accommodation, with a lack of support and often putting their lives on hold for years,” said professor Peter Mackie, member of the Homewards National Expert Panel.

“Building enough permanent affordable homes is a priority, and until we achieve this goal, we must rethink and redesign our temporary solutions.

“This project, a collaboration between the Duchy of Cornwall, St Petrocs and Homewards, hopes to demonstrate the power of delivering high quality temporary accommodation that really feels like home and gives people the dignity they deserve, alongside a clear pathway to permanent accommodation, creating a model that can be replicated and inspire innovation across the UK.”

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Homelessness has been a growing problem in Cornwall in recent years with local councillors and campaigners bemoaning the rise of short-term lets for adding to a shortage of housing. 

The government announced a fresh crackdown on short-term lets on Monday (19 February), promising planning permission will be required for future short-term lets and a national register of properties.

Prince William’s own solution focuses on bringing together public, private and voluntary sectors to create new housing with wraparound support delivered by local charity St Petrocs.

The first phase of the project will focus on creating high quality temporary accommodation that feels like home with a clear pathway to a permanent home as accommodation becomes available. 

As well as a home and support, residents will also receive training and employment and help to find permanent accommodation.

Development is due to begin in September 2024 and the first homes are due to complete in autumn 2025. 

The impact of the housing project being delivered by the Duchy of Cornwall will be evaluated by the Homewards programme and learnings will be shared with the six Homewards coalitions across the UK.

The Duchy of Cornwall’s plans in Nansledan aim to increase affordable housing to add 200 more affordable homes on top of the current 1,020.

A private rented scheme providing longer-term tenancies and clearer rent increases is also in the offing for Nansledan with the aim of reducing the risk for lower-income households.

The Duchy also plans to build more than 400 social rented homes and a further 475 affordable dwellings on its new development of South East Faversham in Kent.

Big Issue vendor Dave Martin and Prince William pictured selling copies of the magazine in Hammersmith, West London

Speaking to The Big Issue last year, Duchy of Cornwall estate director Ben Murphy said Nansledan is the ‘big brother’ of Poundbury in Dorset. That is where King Charles has spent the last 30 years carving out his housing vision before passing it on to William when he became king. 

“As one of his key priorities for the Duchy of Cornwall, Prince William asked us to address the homelessness challenge within Cornwall and other areas where the estate resides,” said Murphy.

“The Duchy is well-known for integrating high quality affordable housing into the new communities built on its land, and Prince William is determined to ensure that we continue to be part of the solution when it comes to the housing crisis.

“The shortage of social rent and private rented properties are widely considered to be the main causes of increasing homelessness across the country, which is why we are proud to launch this project alongside ambitious plans to unlock more affordable and attainable homes across our estate.”

The move has earned praise from homelessness charity Centrepoint where William is a patron.

“This is a moment of great leadership from our patron Prince William and Homewards Activator the Duchy of Cornwall, showing us all the positive role landlords can play in tackling the housing crisis,” said chief executive Seyi Obakin.

“The cost of land is one of the single biggest barriers to housebuilding so, were others in similar positions to make similar moves, the impact could be life changing for many people.

“Permanent accommodation is the priority, but stepping stone accommodation has an important role to play whilst more housing is being built. We have seen through Centrepoint’s developments that creating accommodation with clear pathways to employment, support and opportunities to embed in the local community can help people to put down foundations and thrive.”

Prince William has been a big supporter of The Big Issue in recent years and donned a red tabard as recently as December when he checked in with vendor Dave Martin at Tesco in Hammersmith.

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