EAST Hampshire’s homeless are to get their ‘own front door’ after councillors voted to spend £792,000 of developers contributions converting a village hall into ‘pod’ accommodation.

East Hampshire District Council Cabinet approved plans to remodel the run-down and unused Pinewood Village Hall at its meeting on Thursday, September 9.

Working with innovators Velocity RDT of Bentley, seven individual pods will be constructed in the hall on Rydal Close in Whitehill and three double ones outside in it’s garden.

These will be used to temporarily re-home local people until permanent accommodation is found; the scheme is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK.

The council’s welfare and community integration spokesman Cllr Julie Butler said: “Homelessness has increased significantly during the pandemic, and there is a critical shortage of temporary accommodation within the district for single homeless people.

“This is a brilliantly innovative way of finding comfortable, safe and supported accommodation.

“It also makes excellent use of a community building that is no longer serving a useful purpose.

“Supporting the district’s most vulnerable people is a key priority, and I am delighted we have launched a scheme thought to be one of a kind in this country.”

The project could be complete by mid-2022, and then for five years initially the homelessness charity Two Saints will run the building.

The charity will support tenants and manage and maintain the building that will be powered by solar panels, and have a sophisticated fire suppression system and alarm.

Other innovative features include CCTV to improve the safety, management and welfare of residents and have covered in Sedum – a plant that sits on a waterproof membrane and creates an attractive ‘living’ roof.

Council regeneration director Simon Jenkins added: “This innovative way of using an old building could have wider applications, and be adopted by other councils, and even businesses.”

The council insist the pods will be for local people, as at the moment it houses homeless people in costly bed and breakfast businesses outside East Hampshire, except for one in Rowlands Castle.