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Gloucestershire Business News

Construction firm plans to turn derelict building into accommodation for the homeless

An independent construction and architectural firm from Gloucester has found its niche during the pandemic - bringing a derelict city building back to life to provide valuable accommodation for the homeless.

Usually working in the residential sector, Highnam-based RES Architecture was already setting itself apart by focusing on delivering sustainable projects nationwide.

The arrival of the pandemic hit construction hard, but the business has said it was able to adapt, spotting an opportunity opened up by government to encourage the redevelopment of 'difficult' derelict buildings - in particular to provide accommodation for homeless people.

Despite the special requirements of such work, the RES Architecture's team seized the day and is teaming up with a housing association to deliver six apartments in St Michaels Square, off Brunswick Road.

The proposed development site is a former surgery and works look to adapt the internals of the current building for the new use as a home for individuals who would otherwise be 'rough sleepers', without any major exterior or structural changes.

Nick Gwilliam, a director and one of the founders of RES Architecture, said it had been extra special for the business to deliver a sustainable project at the heart of their home city.

"We believe that not only does this clean up the city, but no one should have to sleep rough in this modern age.

"Using the skills and resources and mindset of the individuals within our organisation to achieve such goals have been nothing but a pleasure and we are looking forward to a long-standing relationship with the housing association and the delivery of local Government schemes," said Mr Gwilliam.

"Our team identified a derelict building in the heart of Gloucester that needed a new spark of energy and different approach. The team's objectives were driven by the gloomy period of lockdown during the months of April.

"We wanted to see how we could thrive as a business despite such a dark economic outlook in some quarters, whilst maintaining a dignified approach, morally and ethically - something we have tried to make part of the business's trademark.

"We think we managed that, but also this is a project which will be both beneficial to the community, sustainable and something that improves another piece of the city.

"I am incredibly proud of the team for turning their attention to something that also is so much more than just a social cause for us and will benefit those in greatest need for many years to come."

Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester, said: The Government has an ambitious goal of accommodating all homeless and rough sleepers and has tasked Gloucester City Council to lead the local solutions and it is really good to see a housing association working with a local firm, RES Architecture, to bring this otherwise unused surgery back to life for people who badly need to be housed."

Councillor Andrew Gravells, Gloucester City Council cabinet member for housing strategy and planning, said: "We've been delighted to work in partnership on this project which will provide much needed accommodation for a range of people who we have been supporting through the pandemic.

"We will continue to work with all partners to ensure the new residents are well supported.

"As a former patient of this old surgery, as were my parents, I'm especially pleased to see this building being given a new lease of life. As the days get colder and shorter this is perfect timing for the people who will now have a warm place to call home."

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