A city's homeless are to be put up in shipping containers in an audacious bid to ease the housing crisis.

Brighton Housing Trust (BHT) and the team behind the New England Quarter will soon submit a planning application to transform a city centre site into a homeless village with 36 flats, gardens and allotments.

Sussex-based developer QED has already bought the 36 shipping containers which have been converted into studio flats.

The proposal is for two blocks of homes, three and four storeys high, next to The Cobbler’s Thumb in New England Road, in a plot currently used as a car park.

QED and BHT are in talks with planners and hope to move people in as early as May next year.

BHT chief executive Andy Winter said: “It’s great to talk about a solution rather than the problem.”

If given the go-ahead by planners, the units will become homes for people while they search for a permanent place.

Mr Winter said: “It would be people who have lost their jobs or someone who is living in their car while holding down a job but doesn’t have housing.

“Given the desperate housing situation in Brighton and Hove, imaginative solutions are required.

“What really excites me about this opportunity is that land that might otherwise lie idle for five years will be brought back into life and used to provide much-needed temporary accommodation.

“When the site is redeveloped, the accommodation units can be transferred to other locations.”

Addressing problem

Chris Gilbert, QED director, said: “It’s not quite as easy as unloading a container from a lorry, but it’s a lot easier than building flats from scratch.

“We’re not intending to dress them up and pretend they’re not containers.

“I think it could be an exciting way of addressing, quickly, what’s a massive problem.”

The containers are commonly used as homes in Amsterdam, where they form student flats, accommodation for the Salvation Army and even a hotel.

The Brighton containers were originally converted for a social housing project in Holland in 2010, but the order to TempoHousing was cancelled amid funding problems.

The developers and BHT hope to get permission for the units for five years.

Councillor Phelim MacCafferty, deputy leader of the council, said: “This looks like an exciting and innovative proposal and we are aware of other developments which have successfully used containers as the building blocks of successful projects both in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

“We do, of course, need to make sure that the accommodation on offer is of a decent standard and provides safe and warm living conditions.

“I’m looking forward to more details coming forward about how the containers might fit into the proposed site and what the development will look like.”

See The Argus tomorrow for the latest in our series of special reports on the city’s homeless crisis.

Talking point: What else can be done to help the homeless in Brighton and Hove?

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