Permission has been granted for a new homeless village to be opened in South Lanarkshire.

Approval has been granted for 15 modern, sustainable homes - known as Nest houses - to be built on a brownfield site on Harriet Street in Rutherglen under the auspices of charity Social Bite.

Founded as a small coffee shop in Edinburgh, the social enterprise supports some of the most vulnerable people in society and has been visited and supported by the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney.

In 2018 the charity opened a homeless village in Edinburgh, providing support for up to 20 people by giving them a place to sleep, helping them to learn new skills and helping them with work and voluntary placements.

Last year a recovery centre in Dundee was announced to help those struggling with addiction issues, and a third village will be constructed in Rutherglen if planning permission is granted following a community consultation.

The proposed village includes 15 modern, sustainable modular ‘Nest Houses’ and a community hub surrounded by beautiful landscaping and an outdoor gym facility. The environment aims to create a vibrant community that fosters positive relationships, personal growth, and wellbeing through various activities and support services.

The Herald: Social Bite founder Josh LittlejohnSocial Bite founder Josh Littlejohn (Image: Social Bite)

Greater Glasgow and South Lanarkshire has seen a huge demand for temporary accommodation, with Glasgow City Council declaring a housing crisis last year.

In 2022-2023, there were 39,006 applications for homelessness assistance in Scotland – an increase of 3,247 (9%) compared with 2021-22.

The charity and social enterprise will be entering into a community consultation stage and applying for planning permission following the decision made yesterday by South Lanarkshire Council. A decision on the application is expected in Q3 2024, paving the way for construction of the homes and hub, beginning in Autumn 2025. The first residents are expected to move in in Summer of 2025.

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Josh Littlejohn MBE, founder of Social Bite, emphasised the urgent need for innovative solutions in addressing homelessness, stating: "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.

“It’s important to us that the local community are part of this journey. As we begin to embed plans for this new village, we’ll look to start public consultation in the coming months. We’re working closely with South Lanarkshire Council to ensure the village is a positive asset to the local community.”

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 homeless.”