8 February 2021

YMCA Exeter and Exeter City Council, alongside Homes England, are launching a joint venture to tackle Exeter’s 1-bed housing crisis by taking an abandoned warehouse in Acland Road – near the city centre – and converting it into 26 self-contained studio apartments. Each apartment will provide a young person with a permanent, affordable home and support as needed. 

The site, originally intended for student accommodation, is a groundbreaking initiative. YMCA Exeter are delighted to be moving ahead with the development thanks to the significant investment from both Homes England and Exeter City Council. The newly named, ‘Sidwell Studios’ is being specifically built to create a fantastic community feel within the city, while regenerating the area and providing an asset to the locality and real, affordable housing options for local young people.   

Si Johns, YMCA Exeter Joint CEO says:

“Exeter has a challenging housing crisis. There is limited, affordable one-bed accommodation for local young people. In the last year alone, the housing need has increased by a further 24%, with over 350 local young people waiting for 1-bed accommodation.

“Our vision is to support young people to become embedded in their communities. Many of our young people have been with us for years and are ready to move on into independent living, but although they have meaningful occupations they are priced out of traditional rented housing. They have nowhere to go.”  

YMCA Exeter resident, Jonathan Taylor (23) says:

Lack of affordable housing affects everyone. No one can move on. You can be on a waiting list for years. I’m young but I have nowhere to go. I don’t want to have to move back in with friends and family, I just want somewhere that I can call my own. I’m ready to move into independent accommodation but at the moment there are not many options open to me.”

YMCA Exeter are working closely with Exeter City Council, the police and the Designing Out Crime team, to bring much needed regeneration to the local area. As part of the development there will be investment in lighting, CCTV, gates and bicycle storage to support the prevention and detection of crime across the whole site.

Cllr Ruth Williams, Lead Councillor for Supporting People, says:

“Exeter City Council is delighted to be working together with YMCA Exeter to provide an excellent affordable housing solution for Young People in the city.  There is an increasing need to meet the demand of affordable housing in the city and this will go a long way to providing vital move on accommodation from Young Persons Supported Housing. We look forward to the completion of the scheme and YMCA Exeter welcoming its first residents.”

The new development will work closely with St Sidwell’s Community Centre, providing the opportunity for residents to access vocational skills workshops and a community allotment.

The building work began in January 2021, with plans for residents to move into the accommodation by the end of the year.

For more information visit established2022.org.uk