A RADICAL approach to supporting homeless people in Stratford has moved another step closer to reality.
The Fred Winter Centre has been given full planning permission by Stratford District Council.
This will enable Spring Housing to go ahead with the conversion of the Guild Street part of the former furniture store.
As previously reported in the Herald, the centre will bring a new approach to work with the town’s homeless by putting a range of relevant support in one place.
The centre will have 15 units of affordable housing accommodation, plus a new hub with services offering practical help, advice and training.
There will also be a community cafe and a new home for Stratford Foodbank. Tenders for the building works are now being considered, and a preferred contractor will shortly be appointed with the to start on site later this month and for the centre to be fully operational in early 2021.
The practical operation of the centre will follow the relevant public health guidelines in the light of the coronavirus crisis.
Spring Housing chief executive Dominic Bradley said: “Our gratitude goes out to all the partners who really demonstrated their commitment to the Fred Winter Centre.
“What’s been equally as impressive is the community support we have had in getting to this stage.
“The people of Stratford have proven time and time again what an incredible community they are and we know the Fred Winter Centre has amazing potential to help end the cycle of people experiencing homelessness, through housing, support and employment.”
The centre has won financial backing from the district council, the county council, the town council, and the town trust, and supported by local charities, health agencies and voluntary bodies who work with rough sleepers and other homeless people in the district.
Many of these bodies will operate from the new service hub, to fulfil the vision of a totally integrated approach to meeting the needs of homeless people.
Paul Spooner chairs the Fred Winter Centre Board and had the original vision.
He said: “Securing planning permission represents an important milestone. I am very grateful to Spring and their architects for creating a high-quality design.
“Despite the challenges being faced at the present time our partnership is committed to implementing this design and to delivering the centre.
“We need permanent solutions to end rough sleeping and homelessness and the Fred Winter Centre represents a major step in this direction.
“It will provide, in one setting, affordable and safe homes, on-site health and well-being services, and training and work experience, to support local people out of homelessness.”