Nansledan, Newquay will be location for Prince William’s houses for the homeless

February 18, 2024

Prince William to build houses for homeless on his land in Cornwall

Article in the Sunday Times, 18th February 2024, written by Roya Nikkhah, Royal Editor, about how The Prince of Wales is meeting his pledge to build for the homeless — and hopes commercial builders will follow suit.

Link to article on The Sunday Times online

Commenting on the article, Hugh Petter, Director at ADAM Architecture, and masterplanner and coordinating architect at Nansledan, "So proud to be a small part of this vitally important initiative by HRH The Prince of Wales at Nansledan, Newquay, working with Tricia Langdon of ALA and the Duchy team."

William and Catherine on a visit to Nansledan, near Newquay in 2016. The Duchy of Cornwall will supply the land for the project free of charge and cover all construction costs. CHRIS JACKSON/GETTY IMAGES

The Prince of Wales is to build and fund a £3 million social housing development on his land to tackle homelessness.

William has overseen plans to construct the 24 homes in Cornwall to be ready next year. They will provide high-quality accommodation in an area with one of the most acute homelessness problems in the UK.

The development in Nansledan, a suburb of Newquay, the Cornish seaside town famous for its surfing, will include a mix of four-bedroom houses and one-bedroom flats.

It will deliver on William’s pledge in an interview with The Sunday Times last year that he would put social housing on his Duchy of Cornwall land, the 130,000-acre property portfolio valued at £1 billion stretching from Cornwall to Kent, which he controls as the Duke of Cornwall.

The duchy, which provides the heir to the throne with an income, recorded profits of £24 million in 2022-23. It will supply the land for the project free of charge and cover all construction costs. It will also invest in local infrastructure, including a bus link and connections to electricity, water and superfast broadband.

The new low-carbon homes will feature slate roofs, granite lintels, solar panels, heat pumps and colourful timber windows. It will be built in a “traditional Cornish seaside” style, designed by Adam Architecture and local firm ALA Architects.

It is understood William wants the development to “look and feel as homely as possible” to combat the stigma of social housing. The site will also be re-landscaped and shrubs and wildflowers planted to encourage biodiversity.

Sources close to William, 41, said he wanted to “lead from the front” and encourage other landowners to build more social housing. He is said to be considering further projects on his land.

Prince William has often spoken of his desire to end homelessness, working with The Big Issue in the past

VITALIJUS AND LAURA ZUIKAUSKAS/MEGA

The duchy is working on the project with the Cornish homelessness charity St Petrocs with the long-term aim of helping people move from temporary accommodation at Nansledan into permanent homes.

It will provide residents with a range of “wraparound services”, including mental health support, counselling, training and employment opportunities, in what Kensington Palace described as the duchy’s “first innovative housing project to help address homelessness”.

For future local developments, William has committed to increasing affordable housing from the 30 per cent national requirement to 40 per cent, with a focus on social housing, meaning an extra 200 affordable houses will be built in Nansledan, where there are 1,020 homes at present.

The Nansledan estate began under the watch of William’s father the King when he was Prince of Wales

Over the past 20 years national planning policy has favoured affordable rented housing, which usually offers homes at up to 80 per cent of market rent, over social housing, which is typically 50 to 60 per cent of market rent and linked to a tenant’s salary or mean local income.

Last year William, who is patron of the homelessness charities Centrepoint and the Passage, launched Homewards, a five-year initiative to tackle homelessness. It will provide £3 million from the Royal Foundation of the Prince and Princess of Wales — £500,000 to six locations across the UK where groups of housing experts, businesses and councils will work on plans to end homelessness in their areas.

Experts from Homewards will also work on the Nansledan project with the hope that its success can be replicated nationwide, and in the Homewards locations in Northern Ireland, Lambeth, Aberdeen, Newport, Sheffield, and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

Kensington Palace said: “The prince is delighted that the duchy is using the Homewards approach as inspiration for building this innovative housing project, partnering with St Petrocs to find ways of ultimately getting people into permanent housing.

“It is exactly what he wants to do and for him it’s another example that if we can show people here and in other countries what is possible, maybe others will follow our lead. The prince hopes that every town and city in the country will take inspiration from this project.”

Cornwall’s housing shortages and homelessness problems have worsened since the Covid pandemic. The waiting list for social housing has on it more than 22,000 households, about 8 per cent of Cornwall’s population and nearly double the pre-pandemic figure.

There are more than 800 households, an estimated 1,750 people, in temporary accommodation but little data on the number of people in precarious housing situations or sofa-surfing.

During the pandemic Cornwall’s popularity as a “staycation” destination soared. Many landlords switched their properties from private rentals to temporary holiday accommodation or sold up, drastically reducing the homes available and pricing locals out of the market. A rise in second-home ownership exacerbated the problem.

During a day of engagements in Cornwall last year, the duke and duchess visited St Petrocs, which works alongside Cornwall council to identify those experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless.

William was given a copy of the charity’s book People. Project Cornwall which explores the experiences of people with housing difficulties. He was “deeply moved” and arranged for all members of the Prince’s Council, the Duchy of Cornwall’s board, to receive a copy.

Last year St Petrocs supported 695 people sleeping rough in Cornwall. The total was up by more than a third on 2022.

Jason Smith became homeless in 2022 after moving to Cornwall following the deaths of his mother Pat, and his wife Linda, within four days. He worked at a Padstow hotel where he had staff accommodation but was told this would be withdrawn in the off-season.

“I ended up living out of my car with my dog,” Smith said. He approached the council for help and was put in touch with St Petrocs. “I will always remember it. By 2 o’clock I was in a house in Newquay. It was like paradise.”

A street Nansledan: William wants his houses to feel warm and welcoming. DUCHY OF CORNWALL

Smith said St Petrocs also helped him with therapy to cope with his grief as well as finding work opportunities. Today Smith is in a front-of-house role at Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant, Newquay. “To come into a situation like I did was a shock. St Petrocs have been marvellous. It’s like coming into another family.”

Henry Meacock, the charity’s chief executive, said: “Where Prince William is showing great leadership is in wanting change in the approach to prevention and early intervention around homelessness. “We have a unique opportunity in Nansledan with a socially-minded landowner who has a long-term development mindset, demonstrating to the private sector that you can still be commercial and make a profit but also invest in the local community. The focus for us is about breaking the cycle of homelessness and ending it for good.”

The plans for Nansledan will go out for public consultation this month, with work on the development to begin in September. The first homes are due to be complete the following autumn. Peter Mackie, a planning professor at Cardiff University and a member of the Homewards national expert panel, said the shortage of affordable homes was causing “hundreds of thousands of people to live in poor quality accommodation with a lack of support, often putting their lives on hold for years”.

“There are a small number of organisations, like the Ministry of Defence and the church, sat on a lot of land,” he said. “We want to demonstrate what is possible, delivering high-quality accommodation that gives people the dignity they deserve, alongside a clear pathway to permanent accommodation and a model that can be replicated across the UK.”

In his interview with The Sunday Times last year, William, who is particularly concerned about hidden homelessness and rapidly rising youth homelessness, said he wanted to “change the narrative” around people’s “preconceived ideas”.

He said: “We just see the individual on the streets and go, ‘Oh’. Loads of judgments as to why that person is there … How many people stop and talk to somebody who is homeless? Very few of us. They’ve become invisible. It’s really important that society acknowledges that there is somebody there and they’re having a tough time. It shouldn’t happen but it’s right there. You can’t ignore it.”

Additional reporting: Dominic Hauschild