Former nightclub Ocean Rooms to become a Homeless Shelter?

Former nightclub Ocean Rooms to become a Homeless Shelter title image

Last Year housing campaigner John Hadman started a visionary campaign which would propose the council acquire the former popular nightclub Ocean Rooms located at Morley Street Brighton. John who is in his 80’s managed to galvanise 4500 People to sign a petition to ‘Open a new homeless shelter on Morley Street, Brighton’.

John who has been homeless himself wasn’t able to present the petition himself, the petition was presented by Brighton and Hove Housing Coalition Chair Barry Hughes

Watch the best of the debate here.

“Mr. Mayor, councillors, this petition, which has 4,519 signatures was started by housing campaigner John Hadman, of Brighton and Hove Housing Coalition (of which I am the Chairman) but for technical reasons it has fallen to me to present it to you today for noting and discussion and for passing to the Policy and Resources Committee for consideration.

We propose that the council purchase the unoccupied building once known as Kings 2, Ocean Rooms and latterly ‘PsychoSocial’ at 1-2 Morley Street  BN2 9RA and open it as a permanent shelter for women and men who are Homeless or about to become homeless. 

The council has in recent times taken steps to provide a night shelter at such venues as the Brighton Centre and Brighton Town Hall. The former is not ideal and is unlikely to be available for some time and the latter is just not at all ideal. 

The council recently acted swiftly to take rough sleepers off the street and this initiative gave us the true picture of the scale of the problem with 600 people found shelter in hotels and guest houses.

What is needed is a permanent hub that can house representatives from agencies such as St. Mungo’s, act as a clearing house and as a temporary shelter while more permanent solutions are found; it could also have space for SWEP provision.

The building at 1-2 Morley Street, once a club, is currently unoccupied, the freehold having been sold to London based investors for £530k in 2010, it was subsequently let to club operators at a rental of £60,000 a year, until closing. It should be possible to negotiate a purchase in today’s market at a level that would satisfy the owners and not break the bank and the interior would clearly need to be customised as dormitory style sleeping arrangements are now frowned upon. The building is in a great location and is next door to the excellent Arch Healthcare. 

The council has shown a positive attitude in the face of campaigning by the Coalition and our members with the opening of night shelters and a more humane approach to SWEP. Also with the purchase of sites such as Gladstone Court, the former Tarner Home at Tilbury Place and developing the former Oxford Street Housing Office, which eventually we are told, will open later this year (having been empty since 2014) the council is showing a willingness to take temporary and emergency accommodation in house. As councillor David Gibson is quoted as saying, “it is more cost effective for the council to provide temporary housing itself”.

The same also must be true of tackling and solving the problem of homelessness and street sleeping by the provision of a one-stop hub in Morley Street.

Mr Mayor, councillors I commend this petition to you for consideration. Thank you.”

Barry Hughes on Behalf of John Hadman Brighton.
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