Deputy mayor outlines homes plan for ex-prisoner and first-time buyers in Bristol

More housing could be built on car parks following the success of prefab homes in St George

Housing for ex-prisoners or first-time buyers could be created in the air space above Bristol’s car parks within a year, the deputy mayor has said.

Asher Craig wants to build on the success of the ZED Pods – prefab homes on stilts in Chalks Road for young people who had been homeless – with other innovative schemes to tackle the growing waiting list.

She said homes could be provided as so-called meanwhile uses on brownfield sites before they are developed and in buildings Bristol City Council no longer needs after the pandemic prompted a review of its estate.

Councillor Craig told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Some of the young people at Hope Rise [the Zed Pod project] have turned their lives around, they’ve secured permanent jobs and one has been promoted within about six months. It gives people security and hope.

Asher Craig wants to build on the success of the ZED pods - homes on stilts in Chalks Road, St George

“Let’s take the same idea and adapt it for people coming out of the criminal justice system. A lot of people are coming out who are homeless.

“All the fears people had when we did Hope Rise completely dissipated, everyone’s loving it. People were worried the young people would be antisocial or their house prices would go down. That’s the gut reaction to anything in planning but it’s been a real positive.

“On sites where there’s going to be a delay we could do something temporary, we could use shipping containers. We own a lot of brownfield sites.

“I’d like to take what we’ve done and use it across the city for a whole range of different needs to help us address the housing shortage. I’m keen that we can do this and make it happen within the next year.”

The council is teaming up with the Salvation Army to build eight modular homes in a car park off Church Road to provide supported move-on accommodation for people facing homelessness, while elsewhere in the city shipping containers have been converted for housing for rough sleepers.

The ZED Pods at St George have given people security and hopes, says Cllr Asher Craig

Cllr Craig added: “In light of Covid we’re also reviewing many of our buildings that are basically going to be empty. We’ve identified a number of buildings we want to give up. We’re looking at what we can sell, what we can hand to the community and what can be regenerated for housing.

“Bristol is a progressive city. We’re there to showcase what can be done.

“Everyone says there’s a lot of nimbyism in the city but no one is solutions-focused. I don’t want people to say ‘not here’ – well, bloody hell, where then? Where do we build homes?

“The waiting list has gone from 12,000 when we came in in 2016 and it’s now around 16,000. Half of the graduates stay in the city, we’re a young city. We’ve got to cater for the needs of these young people.”

Backing Cllr Craig’s ideas, Mr Shelford said building homes can teach prisoners valuable skills and give them somewhere to live.

He told police and crime panel members in December: “It’s incredibly important to provide accommodation when people come out of jail so they don’t go back to their old ways, they don’t go back to their old friends which cause them quite often to be nicked that first weekend back into jail.”