Go Ahead for Borough's Rough Sleeper Hub

Centre said to be 'pioneering approach' to problem of homelessness

The location of the new rough sleeper hub, 201-203 Lavender Hill, Battersea. Picture: Google Streetvoew

May 24, 2024

A new rough sleeper hub bringing together short-stay accommodation and vital services under one roof will open for the first time in a South London borough. An office in Battersea will be converted into the new hub to tackle street homelessness with a ‘pioneering approach’, after the plans were approved by Wandsworth Council.

The hub on Lavender Hill will operate 24 hours a day and have nine bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, showers, toilets, staff offices and meeting rooms. It will bring together specialist services while providing rough sleepers with essentials such as food, clothes and transport.

The hub will be based on a short-stay assessment model with a target 28-day stay for residents before they move on, although this will vary depending on their needs. Each resident will have a housing officer to explore suitable options and a support worker responsible for their welfare. Staff will aim to find long-term housing for residents to move on to, although they could also explore other alternative short-term options like temporary accommodation.

Labour councillor Aydin Dikerdem, cabinet member for housing, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) the hub will have a ‘pioneering approach’ as the first in Wandsworth to combine short-stay accommodation with multiple services for rough sleepers to prepare them for settled long-term accommodation. He said the plans were put together using lessons from the government’s Everyone In scheme, which provided thousands of rough sleepers with a place to stay during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Councillor Dikerdem said there will be a forum for surrounding residents to meet regularly with staff and provide feedback on the hub, which the council is setting up in response to concerns from locals about the hub causing problems in the area. He said rough sleepers will only be able visit the hub by appointment, while it will not house ‘high-risk individuals’.

The council’s planning committee voted 8:1 to approve the scheme on 21 May. Labour councillor Paul White said, “It’s really good to see that we have some venue that we can provide a housing first, holistic approach to this which is very successful in getting people off the streets. There are other areas in the borough… which do have a lot of rough sleepers and obviously this is a great attempt to try and reduce that issue.”

Conservative councillor Guy Humphries welcomed the planned residents’ forum so the council can ‘be more proactive in their discussions with the obviously understandably concerned residents and businesses nearby’. He asked for reassurance the authority is ‘willing to be flexible and moderate or change plans if things aren’t working according to exactly how it is in reality’.

There will be staff at the hub 24 hours a day, with specialist rough sleeper workers from 7.30am to 7.30pm on weekdays and at least two trained staff members on evenings, nights and weekends, along with CCTV and a hotline for residents. A maximum of 16 staff will work at the hub at any one time. The Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has allocated grant funding for the hub to be built.

A report submitted with the application said Wandsworth has ‘never had any provision that rough sleepers can be placed in at short notice’ which means they are placed in ‘expensive temporary accommodation far from the borough and without access to locally-provided support services’. It added that efforts to ‘bring people off the streets are significantly hampered by this lack of provision’. A report by charity Shelter in 2023 revealed one in 43 residents in Wandsworth were homeless.

The hub is part of the council’s wider plans to tackle homelessness in Wandsworth. Councillor Dikerdem told the LDRS the authority is launching a ‘drive for change’ bus to travel around the borough providing rough sleepers with extra support. He said: “It’s the kind of place where you could direct someone to make an appointment at the hub… people can get access to haircuts, dental care, financial literacy training [and] getting a bank account.”

Councillor Dikerdem added the authority is continuing to work on delivering 1,000 new council homes across the borough, while it has expanded its homelessness prevention team by 24 positions to improve services – including by finding more private rented homes to place people in, reducing rough sleeping and intervening when renters’ tenancies come under threat.


Charlotte Lilywhite - Local Democracy Reporter