A new £2.2m homeless sanctuary has been opened in Preston to offer people a chance to get back on the property ladder.
The Spires in Maudland Bank is a former sheltered accommodation complex converted into 26 self-contained apartments.
The city’s largest social housing landlord, Community Gateway Association (CGA), has carried out the redevelopment, supported by Preston City Council and Lancashire County Council.
The homeless prevention centre will provide step-up accommodation for homeless people and those at risk of being made homeless.
The Spires offers a secure tenancy for up to three years for those hoping to get back on the housing ladder.
As well as safe, well-appointed apartments, the scheme also includes spacious communal and training rooms to allow Gateway colleagues and partner organisations to deliver key life skills’ training such as running a home, budgeting and cooking, as well as helping people secure jobs, training and access benefits or legal advice.
Staff will be available on site around the clock to support tenants.
Preston Mayor Coun Javed Iqbal and CGA chief executive Rob Wakefield cut the ribbon at a small opening ceremony, before welcoming guests to look round the new building.
“This was a fantastic project to be involved in and it speaks to our mission to build aspirations and strong communities across the city and beyond,” said Fiona Fisher, CGA’s head of housing services.
“Our customers told us clearly that they wanted us to take a lead role in helping tackle homelessness, so it’s a lynchpin of our strategic objectives endorsed fully by our board.
“The opening of The Spires, following on from our work to support the Fox Street Centre a few years ago, is a big step along that road.
“I’d like to thank all our partners who worked with us to make it happen, from initial design and funding to the high spec building and landscaped grounds we see today ready to welcome our first tenants.
“We are sure The Spires will offer the safety and sanctuary they deserve to enhance their life chances and move them forward, which is what Community Gateway is all about.”
CGA say they have “extensively refurbished a former sheltered accommodation scheme that had seen declining demand over the years,” into 26 apartments, a communal lounge, a teaching kitchen, laundry and support staff working spaces.
The nine-month project saw the building go through an extensive programme of works including significant structural alterations, adaptations, and full refurbishment of the property. The new scheme includes rooms suitable for those with disabilities and is fully accessible.