Luton Borough Council has called off plans to demolish a block of flats based in Luton so that they can be used as accommodation for people and families who are homeless.
The Purley Centre block of flats, which now houses 57 families, was built in the 1960s.
Luton is an area which faces a huge housing problem with high levels of homelessness. Another 40 families were recently being accommodated in a hotel which costs the council £50,000 a month.
The Luton borough council is in the process of developing and building over 200 new homes. Private landlords are able to bid for a temp contract for this accommodation over four years, which is worth £28 million.
The 209 new homes are the first new homes in the borough for over 20 years, but the demand for housing is high and the council admits that another 2,500 are needed.
Luton council is one of England’s biggest users of private landlords out of London and there are 780 homeless households which are currently in temporary accommodation.
The councillor in charge of housing at Luton borough council, Tom Shaw says that B&B housing was not a great solution for families.
“It’s not nice for the homeless families and their children whose schools may even be on the far side of town from where they are now living.
“About 18 months ago we looked in to working with private landlords.”
Finding more private landlords who are willing to invest is getting increasingly difficult because of changes in legislations and extra costs involved such as landlords insurance and property development improvements.
The council said that they did not have a “disproportionate number of homeless households compared to similar boroughs of size and urbanisation”.
A spokesperson for the council said, “Indeed the numbers that Luton accepts as homeless is broadly similar to Bedford Borough Council, one of our partner authorities”.
The spokesperson also said, “Luton is a landlocked borough, completely enclosed by either Green Belt or areas of outstanding natural beauty.
“This leaves the situation that potential for growth is hindered and only small infill developments of brownfield sites present for any housing.
“We have a larger proportion of households occupying temporary accommodation for longer periods than other authorities, thus presenting the image that we have a disproportionate number of homeless households.”