A NEW development in Bournemouth has been bought by a housing association as part of an effort to end rough sleeping and homelessness.

Charitable body BCHA acquired the Clock House when it was only partly built.

The development is on the site of the former Clock Garage in Ringwood Road, near Bear Cross.

Commercial law firm Steele Raymond advised BCHA on the acquisition, which will create 15 homes for people who have been in temporary accommodation.

The acquisition was BCHA’s first major deal under the government’s Next Steps Accommodation Programme (NSAP) and is part of the Everyone In initiative to end homelessness.

Before Covid-19, there were estimated to be 70-80 rough sleepers in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area. But the health crisis and subsequent lockowns have revealed another 200 “hidden homeless”.

The extent of “hidden” homelessness, with people forced to “sofa surf” or live in insecure accommodation, prompted the government to commit extra money to the issue.

Martin Lucas, director of finance and corporate resources at BCHA, said: “Our aim is to meet housing need and to end homelessness through the building and provision of affordable and secure homes, and by supporting individuals to take control and lead independent, fulfilled lives.

“NSAP and the Clock House project is yet another example of what can be achieved within a relatively short timeframe with the help and perseverance of our people and partners and will have a significantly positive impact on the lives of its new tenants.”

BCHA’s work also covers Dorset, South Somerset and Devon.

Its acquisition of the Clock House is the latest of more than 200 property matters dealt with by Steele Raymond’s residential development solicitors.

Martin Lucas said: “We have worked with Steele Raymond for over 20 years now and the relationship has stood the test of time because they understand our priorities and make sure that our objectives are met, while maintaining an extremely high standard of service. In particular, the Next Steps programme has required a tight turnaround as well as a significant level of attention to detail, which they have delivered.”

Emma Stainwright, partner and head of residential development at Steele Raymond, said: “Helping clients like BCHA to achieve their goals is one of the most rewarding aspects of my residential development work; to be able to have assisted in the amazing work that they do in any small way is fantastic. There was a lot of information to sort through as the building was only partially constructed at the time of acquisition.

“It was of primary importance that we fully understood exactly what stage the build had got to and how the stage payments under the build contract were going to sit against the land and partially constructed building.”