Oxford backs plan to use empty buildings as #homeless shelters

Councillors in Oxford to create temporary shelters in vacant buildings after campaigners occupied old power station

Councillors in Oxford have backed a plan to allow homeless people to use empty buildings in the city as shelters.

It follows the occupation of an abandoned power station owned by Oxford University by the Iffley Open House housing campaign group. The group was handed an Interim Possession Order (IPO) and told to leave the Old Power Station in Osney back in March.

But Green councillor David Thomas was impressed by the spirit of the radical group and came up with his own proposal to make vacant buildings available to homeless people as temporary shelters. Thomas' motion was backed this week by the city council.

Green councillor David Thomas was impressed by the campaign group, and came up with his own proposal

Councillors will now come up with detailed plans to make use of appropriate empty buildings by September. Liberal Democrat councillor Liz Wade said the bold move would have to be "legally watertight…and safe."

The Iffley Open House group, which includes about 20 homeless people, have also occupied an empty car showroom, former Italian restaurant and vacant flats in the city over the past year.

The Big Issue has urged central government and local authorities to address Britain's chronic housing problem by and exploring new ways to refurbish the nation’s derelict buildings. Our Fill 'Em Up campaign has explored various ways to restore empty homes and landmarks as a way of increasing housing supply.

Back in the winter of 2015, former Manchester United teammates Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs gave permission to a group of around 30 homeless people to stay in the former Manchester Stock Exchange, then awaiting development as a plush hotel.

The above article by Adam Forrest first published on bigissue.com in Apr, 2017.