Housing

Village of 'beautiful homes' for homeless people to be built in Lanarkshire by Social Bite

The social enterprise has supported more than 100 people in its first village in Edinburgh since it opened in 2018. Now it’s building a second one in Rutherglen with residents expected to move in next summer

Social Bite Josh Littlejohn

The first Social Bite village in Granton, Edinburgh, was the result of two years' planning and 10 months' building. Image: Social Bite

Scottish social enterprise Social Bite has been granted permission to build a second village to support people experiencing homelessness.

Famous for its celebrity connections to the likes of George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio, and star-studded global concerts and sleepouts that raised millions to end homelessness, Social Bite first built a village of sustainable modular homes in Granton, near Edinburgh, in 2018.

The project has helped more than 100 people experiencing homelessness and now is set to get a follow-up village in Rutherglen.

South Lanarkshire Council gave the village the greenlight on Wednesday (24 April) with the first residents set to move in next summer.

Josh Littlejohn, founder of Social Bite: “It’s brilliant to get the go ahead from South Lanarkshire Council on our proposal for the newest Social Bite Village to be located in Rutherglen. Our Social Bite Villages represent a pioneering approach to tackling homelessness in Scotland.

“By collaborating with the local community, South Lanarkshire Council, and our charity partners, this new village will establish a transformative model of accommodation that not only provides beautiful homes to live in, but also helps to break the cycle of homelessness for the individuals that will move in by giving people all the support they need.”

Social Bite village Rutherglen
A render shows what the Rutherglen Social Bite village will look like when it’s built next year. Image: Social Bite

The proposed village will see 15 ‘Nest’ houses built on brownfield land. Residents will get tailored support alongside their home with on-site support services and gym and confidence-building activities also a part of the development. 

The project offers people experiencing homelessness the chance to adapt to independent life indoors before moving on to permanent housing.

Following the approval from the South Lanarkshire Council, Social Bite will enter a community consultation stage before applying for planning permission. A decision on that application is expected in the second half of 2024 with construction on the homes and village hub to begin in the autumn. The first residents are expected to move into their homes in the summer of 2025.

Social Bite village
The Social Bite village in Granton, Edinburgh, was the result of two years’ planning and 10 months’ building. Image: Social Bite

South Lanarkshire Council head of housing services Sharon Egan said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Social Bite on this innovative project. The energy efficient modular housing, with housing support, will assist our customers who are faced with homelessness and the trauma that this brings.  

“This exciting partnership will bring training and employment opportunities to our customers, will invest in the local community and support community wealth. This addition to our temporary accommodation comes at an integral point where South Lanarkshire are experiencing unprecedented levels of homelessness.”

Social Bite is also working on a recovery village in Dundee to tackle rising drug and alcohol deaths in the city.

The social enterprise’s efforts to tackle homelessness comes as several councils across Scotland have declared a housing emergency in recent months, including Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The most recent official statistics show homelessness in Scotland is rising. There were 30,724 homelessness cases active with local authorities between April and September 2023, up 10% in a year.

The number of households in temporary accommodation rose by 8% to 15,625 while 1,408 people who applied for support with homelessness had slept rough in the previous three months, up 7%.

The Scottish government has announced a Housing Bill to tackle the housing emergency, including introducing long-term rent controls

The split in government after the SNP and the Scottish Green Party tore up the Bute House Agreement has seen renters union Living Rent call for the “hugely needed policy” on rent controls to continue. But Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns at property agents body Propertymark, called for a “rethink”.

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