A PROPOSAL  has been submitted by West Devon Borough Council to convert an historic house beside the town bus station into flats for homeless people.

The plan would see spacious 20 Plymouth Road, currently used as offices, reconfigured as flats, to allow the borough council to fulfil its responsibilities for housing people who find themselves homeless in the borough.

A total of six different options for reconfiguring the space over three storeys have been put forward by architects Kendall Kingscott.

One option is to have a flat on each floor, while another would see a flat on the ground floor and a larger flat with four bedrooms on the two upper floors.

Another option proposes two one-bedroom flats on the ground floor, a two-bedroom flat on the  second floor and a smaller one-bedroom flat on the top floor. Comments are invited on the proposal, app 1318/23/FUL, by June 23.

The proposal is in the borough council’s Tavistock North Ward, which is currently subject to a by-election for one of three seats on the council. This follows the resignation of new Green councillor Terry Wheeler, just 12 days after being elected on May 4, after he was made homeless from his own home in the ward.

This means that no one from the council is able to comment on the proposal at this stage.

In addition, the new West Devon Borough Council has just been elected, and roles on the council have yet to be allocated. 

The proposal comes as WDBC's Spring Hill refurbishment remains on hold. This accommodation in a historic property next to Tavistock Hospital had nine self-contained flats to allow the borough council to accommodate homeless people. However these are now in a poor state and so are no longer being used.

The council had proposed to knock them down and rebuild them at a cost of £1.2 million.Yet more than two years later, the accommodation has still not been built. Soaring construction costs in the current inflationary climate have led to both the demolition and the rebuild being put on hold. This has, though, perhaps bought time for a rethink about where homeless accommodation provided, particularly as not everyone in the town is in favour of demolishing Spring Hill.

Independent Cllr Jeff Moody, newly elected to represent Tavistock North Ward on the borough council, said in his election statement before the May 4 election that he thought the borough council should look at refurbishing Spring Hill instead of knocking it down.

He commented: ‘I was recently very disappointed by the planning committee’s planning decision to flout the council’s own Tavistock Conservation Area Management Plan to allow the demolition of the ‘positive’ historical building in Springhill, Tavistock. Had the council considered a purpose-built development to house homeless residents of Tavistock on another development site in Tavistock the historic building could have been saved.’

 The 20 Plymouth Road proposal will see some of the 12 flats originally promised at Spring Hill come to fruition.