Bid to build modular houses for Northampton's homeless families thrown out amid claims it would create a 'shanty town'

Plans to build prefabricated homes in Northampton to ease the town's housing crisis have been thrown out.
Plans to build prefabricated homes in Northampton to ease the town's housing crisis have been thrown out.

Councillors have thrown out a proposal to alleviate Northampton's housing crisis by building a series of pre-fabricated houses - because it would create a "shanty town" in the future.

Last week the Chron reported how the borough spent £50,000 housing homeless families in bed and breakfasts in August.

But a bid by the Liberal Democrats to build a series of prefabricated houses for those in desperate housing need was voted down at this week's full council meeting.

Authorities such as Reading Borough Council have set up similar schemes, but the Conservative group and Labour said the £10,000 houses would become a "shanty town" as soon as they fell into disrepair.

Dennis Meredith (Lib Dem, Talavera) said he was outraged by the vote.

He said: "They weren't really thinking straight.

"The companies that build these places do so to a very high standard.

"There is plenty of land around Northampton (where) they could have put them and maintained them.

"Surely it is better to do this than to keep sending people to Wellingborough for bed and breakfasts?"

Councillor Meredith claims to know a Northampton woman with four children who have been in temporary accommodation for two months.

She is currently housed in a bed and breakfast in Wellingborough.

Meanwhile, figures for August show the number of homeless households put up in temporary accommodation by the council has doubled to over 200 in the past 18 months, including 87 cases living in B&Bs.

Councillors in Reading recently gave the green light to a scheme to build 28 "modular" homes complete with bicycle sheds, a play area and communal amenity space.

Each unit will be timber-clad with UPVC windows and doors and will contain two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen-diner and a living room.

But Councillor Zoe Smith (Lab, Abington) said she could not support the prefabricated housing scheme here in Northampton.

She said: "While we fully agree with the sentiments of the motion, our concerns about prefabricated housing is that it eventually becomes a long-term solution.

"Shanty towns shouldn't be a long-term solution, we need good quality housing instead."