Forty temporary homes for rough sleepers will be built at a car park in the town centre.

Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) Policy committee approved the plans last night (Monday, August 3) to build 40 temporary pods for homeless people at the back of Cattle Market Car Park on Great Knollys Street.

More than 160 rough sleepers or those at risk of rough sleeping in Reading have been placed in emergency accommodation since the government asked councils to accommodate all rough sleepers by the end of March.

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Councillor John Ennis, lead member for Housing, said: “I cannot think of a council in the south east that has housed as many rough sleepers.

“We don’t want to return to having people on the streets of Reading but that is a massive challenge. We’re going to say let’s have a go.”

The homes will have 24-hour support on the site, which councillor Tony Page, lead member for Planning, said is necessary to avoid anti-social behaviour.

He said the site is not ideal due to pollution from the railway and Caversham Road but the temporary pods will save the council almost £1m a year.

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The units will be “of the very highest standard”, with triple glazing and LED lighting and can be moved elsewhere in the town.

So far, 54 people have been moved out of B&Bs into alternative accommodation but there are still 106 people in emergency accommodation.

While RBC does not have any statutory obligation to house these people under homelessness legislation, the council is expected to support and accommodate them and says it is not financially sustainable to keep people in B&Bs.

Approximately 39 of the 106 people in B&Bs have no recourse to public finds.

The council says options for this group are limited, and it is working with local partners and the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to find a sustainable accommodation offer for this group.

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This would include returning them to an area where they have a connection, where desired, and supporting individuals to get settled status to allow them to be eligible for public funds.

For the other 67 rough sleepers, RBC has been working closely with the MCHLG and Homes England to look at sustainable support and accommodation options.

The 40 temporary pods at Cattle Market Car Park, which would have 24-hour support on site, will meet the needs of a large majority of this group.

Lib Dem Councillor Ricky Duveen described the initiative as “excellent”, saying it gives many roughs sleepers “a chance to regularise there lives and move back into the community”.

Green councillor Rob White also praised the plan which he said will help stop Reading “turning to those dark days” of high numbers of rough sleepers.

While Conservative councillor Jeanette Skeats said she fully supports the plan which is “the right thing to do”.

RBC believes the temporary modular pods, which are built off site to allow for swift build times, could be built by October this year.