AN EMPTY city centre office building could be converted into a hostel providing temporary accommodation for the homeless and those in need of short-term housing.

Virgo House on Caledonia Street is the former offices of Virgo UPVC Windows, and is currently empty.

It is the subject of a planning application that would see the two storey building turned into 30 bedsits providing temporary accommodation for “the people who need it the most.”

Applicants Bernstein Developments say need for such accommodation in Bradford has risen drastically in recent years.

According to the application, in the 2017-18 financial year 6,710 nights of bed and breakfast accommodation for temporary housing was needed in the Bradford district.

Last year this jumped to 9,403 nights.

£3.3 million shelter for the homeless is declared open in Bradford

If the plans are approved, the building will be divided into 26 single bedsits and four double bedsits, as well as communal kitchens, dining areas and bathrooms. There will also be an office and reception, with staff regularly visiting the complex.

The application adds: “All bedsits will incorporate a bed, bedside table, chest of drawers, dressing table, wardrobe and lounge chair/sofa. Communal bathrooms will incorporate over shower baths or walk in showers. Communal kitchens will incorporate sink, cooker, fridge/freezer, base and wall cupboards and a small dining table.

“The proposals make use of a redundant office building to provide much needed temporary residential accommodation and reduce demand of the private bed and breakfast accommodation sector in the Bradford area.

“The applicant will work closely in conjunction with Bradford Council to relieve the pressure on providing suitable temporary accommodation to the people who need it the most.”

Virgo Home Improvements shut down in July 2018, with all 11 of its staff made redundant. This office building, a short distance from Wakefield Road, has been empty ever since.

A decision on the change of use planning application is expected to be made by Bradford Council in early February.

Bradford Council’s latest Homelessness Strategy is due to go before it’s Executive Committee on January 2.

It says that the most recent count of rough sleepers found there 24 in the District. This is up from 10 in 2016.

However, there were many others who presented as homeless. In 2019 there were 9,434 approaches to the Council or other services for advice and assistance with homelessness or threatened homelessness.

In 2018/19, 950 households were placed into temporary accommodation, with the average length of stay being 8.56 days. 89 households with children were placed in B&B accommodation in this period.

The strategy says: “The main causes of homelessness in Bradford are relationship breakdown and notices to quit from private rented tenancies.

“Many people who are homeless or in housing need have a range of vulnerabilities including mental health and substance misuse and a difficulty in engaging with support in tenancies.”

“The causes of and solutions to homelessness and rough sleeping are complex and no single agency can solve the problem alone.”