Railway arch village for Manchester homeless gets go-ahead

Embassy Village will provide 40 modular homes, a village hall and a communal green space
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Plans to build a village made out of shipping containers in Manchester have now been approved.

It’s an ambitious project that will bring back to life a derelict site below railway arches near the Bridgewater Canal in Hulme and provide homes and a community for those who need them most.

The project is the vision of Embassy, a charity that launched in 2019 to break the cycle of homelessness.

“We give them the keys to the front door and they sign a tenancy agreement, so they are no longer homeless,” said Sid Williams, director of Embassy.

“They learn to shop, cook, and budget, and we work with 12 companies to get them into full-time work so that then they’re saving up to move on. By the time they leave us they’re actually not living on benefits and they’re in full time work.”

Embassy has used a converted tour bus to provide emergency shelter and support to up to 12 vulnerable adults at a time. The village would give the capacity to help up to three times as many.

The plans for Embassy Village will see about 40 containers placed under the redundant arches and provide 40 modular homes, a village hall and a communal green space.

Embassy has now teamed up with Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity and local businesses to help turn the vision of Embassy Village into reality.

“There are not enough places for homeless people to go when it’s cold,” says Tim Heatley at Capital & Centric. “When we’re finished, there’s going to be one-bedroom apartments and pods with things like planted areas so they can grow their own food and a village hall where people can go, hang out, interact and learn new skills. Lots of people have stepped forward and said they’d love to help.”

The site which will become Embassy Village is currently owned by Peel L&P, which is working in conjunction with fellow developer Capital & Centric and the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity to deliver the scheme.

“If we can bring the business community together and help provide units to go into our arches here, a homeless person can have a home here and get back into society,” says James Whittaker of Peel L&P.

The planning application has been unanimously approved by the council, a decision welcomed by Embassy’s co-founder and director Sid Williams.

“It’s really heartwarming to see Manchester’s response being so positive,” continued Sid.

Potential residents will be interviewed and triaged, and only those who are ready and keen to work and improve themselves will be offered accommodation.

A strict zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policy will also be enforced by staff, who will live on the site and manage it around the clock.

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