Prince William tackling homelessness in Cornwall with Duchy initiative

It's the first project in the Duchy of Cornwall

Homelessness remains a pressing issue across the UK, and Cornwall is no exception. As Duke of Cornwall, Prince William has announced a new project aiming to make a tangible difference in the region.

Partnering with the Cornish homelessness charity, St Petrocs, the initiative utilises land from the Duchy of Cornwall to build 24 temporary homes for those in need, and offer crucial support services for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Prince William, the Prince of Wales, at the launch of a five year programme to end homelessness at the Mosaic Clubhouse in London; June 2023

This marks a significant milestone in William’s five-year campaign to end homelessness; Homewards was launched last year with £3 million funding from the Royal Foundation.

The project, dubbed ‘Nansledan Homes for Change’, focuses on Nansledan, a growing community near Newquay.

It’s scheduled to break ground in September, with the first homes expected to be ready by autumn 2025. These 24 dwellings will prioritise high-quality design and a comfortable living environment, going beyond the typical image of temporary accommodation. The first phase of the development will focus on ‘creating high quality temporary accommodation that feels like home’, the Duchy said.

However, the initiative goes beyond bricks and mortar. It emphasises ‘wrap-around support’, partnering with St Petrocs to offer residents access to vital services like mental health support, employment training, and financial guidance. This approach aims to empower individuals to break the cycle of homelessness and find a secure, independent future.

Prince William’s involvement naturally carries significant weight. Overseeing the workings of the Duchy, a private estate established in 1337 that generates income for the heir apparent, William has been praised, offering a tangible example of how the estate can contribute to social good. The Prince of Wales’ long-standing advocacy for mental health and social causes lends credibility to the initiative.

The Duchy of Cornwall provides a private income to William and his family – but also offers the chance to use its acres for good

‘As one of his key priorities for the Duchy of Cornwall, Prince William asked us to address the homelessness challenge within Cornwall and other areas where the estate resides,’ Ben Murphy, the Duchy’s estate director, said.

‘The Duchy is well-known for integrating high quality affordable housing into the new communities built on its land, and Prince William is determined to ensure that we continue to be part of the solution when it comes to the housing crisis.

‘The shortage of social rent and private rented properties are widely considered to be the main causes of increasing homelessness across the country, which is why we are proud to launch this project alongside ambitious plans to unlock more affordable and attainable homes across our estate.’

Homelessness is a longstanding concern for the Prince of Wales, who became a patron of Centrepoint in 2004, and is also a patron of the Passage, which he first visited as a child with his mother, Diana as a child.

Diana, Princess of Wales, William and Harry visit The Passage charity

Professor Peter Mackie, member of the Homewards National Expert Panel, commented: ‘Building enough permanent affordable homes is a priority, and until we achieve this goal, we must rethink and redesign our temporary solutions.

‘This project, a collaboration between the Duchy of Cornwall, St Petrocs and Homewards, hopes to demonstrate the power of delivering high quality temporary accommodation that really feels like home and gives people the dignity they deserve, alongside a clear pathway to permanent accommodation, creating a model that can be replicated and inspire innovation across the UK.’

However, critiques have occurred. Some consider 24 homes to few, considering the scale of Cornwall’s homelessness problem, and the land at the Duchy’s disposal. Others raise concerns about the long-term viability of temporary housing and the need for permanent solutions.

One of the key areas of Prince William’s royal work has been to raise awareness around homelessness. (Centrepoint)

Despite these concerns, the Nansledan Homes for Change project represents a positive step forward. It highlights a collaborative effort between the future King, a dedicated charity, and local resources, while the emphasis on high-quality housing and personalised support services differentiates this project from many temporary accommodation solutions.

While the project won’t single-handedly solve Cornwall’s homelessness issue, it serves as a valuable pilot programme. Many hope its success could pave the way for further collaborations and larger-scale initiatives.

The Nansledan Homes for Change project is not just about providing shelter; it embodies a vision of empowerment and opportunity. By offering a temporary haven combined with crucial support services, the project seeks to equip individuals with the tools they need to rebuild their lives.

Through this initiative, Prince William demonstrates his commitment to social responsibility, setting an example for others to follow and contributing to a Cornwall where everyone has a chance to thrive.

Henry Meacock, St Petrocs chief executive, said: ‘Our charity has been working in Cornwall for over 30 years and has supported many hundreds of people in this time.

‘With the Duchy of Cornwall, we believe we can deliver a truly exemplary project embedded in the local community which will provide a route for many more people out of homelessness for good.’

The Duchy of Corn wall has confirmed its future housing projects in Nansledan would aim to increase affordable housing from 30% to 40%, creating up to 200 more affordable homes on top of the existing 1,020.

In the pipeline is also a Private Rented Scheme for Nansledan, seeking to remove barriers to entry for those on lower incomes, provides longer term tenancies and transparent rent increases. The estate further committed to building more than 400 social rented homes and a further 475 affordable dwellings on its new development of South East Faversham in Kent.

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