Homeless hostel in Kentish Town to become modern almshouse

A hostel in Kentish Town could become the first “modern almshouse” in a pioneering development to return the homeless to independent living.

The �2million plan would see Holmes Road Hostel, in Holmes Road, lead the way in temporary housing under Camden Council’s “pathway” programme.

Project architect Fiona Sheppard said: “It’s the first of its kind as a project to go back to the idea of the old almshouses. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before. Hopefully it will become a model for the future.”

Under the designs, half of the temporary residents would be housed in individual “micro-homes” arranged around a garden in a style reminiscent of Christian charity almshouses.

It is possible the communal garden could be used for allotments and turned into a social enterprise project.


The focus of the development is to modernise the hostel, which was originally built as a Victorian workhouse, to get rid of its institutional feel and invite the community to become involved in how it is used.

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Its capacity would increase from 43 to 60 and improvements would be made to bring more light and space into the building, which would not be expanded beyond its current footprint.

It is thought that the changes will help the residents on the road to independence.

Holmes Road Hostel’s modernisation will be funded by the sale of a homeless hostel in Covent Garden and part of a �4m government grant, the remainer of which is for a hostel in Holborn.

Ms Sheppard, from Peter Barber Architects, said: “It’s great to think that we’re not only bringing the hostel up to 21st-century standard but also preserving it for future generations.”

A council spokesman said: “The proposed works to the Holmes Road Hostel will transform a building that was originally part of a workhouse into a modern, 21st-century facility.

“There will be areas for residents to grow plants and vegetables to help develop horticultural skills that might help them gain employment.

“The proposal will also have enhanced communal facilities, for example for employment training, and will be open for use by the wider community.”

A planning application is expected to be lodged later this year and building work could begin in 2014.