Company boss says HMO will offer health and welfare lifeline for the homeless

Entrepreneur Gary Haime says his plan to convert his former town centre offices into a house in multiple occupation (HMO) is not simply for commercial gain.

“I would like to pay for therapy / counsellor support out of my commercial returns to help give our tenants the help that they need,” he told Fenland planners.

If approved the empty offices will be converted to accommodate 10 bedrooms for up to 13 people.

“People need accommodation, a fixed address to give stability and more practically to facilitate employment,” he said.

“I understand the stigma and concerns attached with HMOs and the key is management; this will be an absolute for the project.”

He said: “At this early stage we are yet to work out the ‘nuts and bolts’ but rest assured the management will ensure that the area is protected from loitering and anti-social behaviour surrounding our building.”

Mr Haime has been in talks with the council about his former office at Bridge Street following his company’s move to the one-time NatWest building at Exchange Lane.

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“After many considerations of what to do with the building we have decided that we would like to move forward with an HMO application,” he said.

“I would like to stress that my motives are not solely for commercial gain.

“I have numerous businesses within the town and have lived within the town for 30 years.

“I also am passionate about mental health and second chances! The reality is that there is an absolute need for affordable accommodation throughout the country; and specifically our town.”

He said he had held brief discussions with Simon Crowson of 50 Backpacks “and we may have some kind of ‘marriage’ here to achieve our goals”.

2gether Insurance which used to be located at 4, Bridge Street is now based in Exchange Square, Wisbech

A planning statement from Inspire Architectural, Mr Haime’s agent, says: “Although some small remedial works may need to be carried out as part of the refurbishment, there will be no material changes to the external appearance of the property.”

It explans partitions will be built inside the property and the building’s original features “will be protected, enhanced and in some cases restored”.