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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Arlington House clarification

May 23 2009
Novas Scarman‘s Camden hostel will transfer the landlord function to the One Housing Group. Last month The Pavement reported that Arlington House, one of London's oldest and most iconic hostels, was to be sold. But since going to press more details have emerged about the future of the building. Arlington House is owned by the Novas Scarman Trust, which encourages rough sleepers into social enterprise projects across the UK. But this month the group is set to transfer the landlord function of the building to the One Housing Group. On Monday 20th October, a board meeting confirmed the transfer to a registered social landlord. Chief executive of the Novas Scarman Group, Michael Wake explained that this was not a 'sale' of the building. "This is a transfer of the housing/building aspects of the project, something we have been withdrawing from over the past four years, leaving the Novas Scarman Group to provide the support to residents," he said. "The board has agreed a local association but has yet to confirm this with the Housing Corporation. I believe I can note that it is likely to be OHG, a local association, with which we have worked in partnership for over 10 years on our other hostels and has a strong record of managing development projects and supported housing." Mr Wake added the sale was not for profit. "This is to be a nil-cost transfer. No money will be made," he said. "Any funding that we may have made has been left by the group in Arlington which the transfer registered social landlord will invest in the ongoing refurbishment programme." Novas Scarman bought the hostel back in 1993 from Camden Council with the covenant that the property must be used to provide "social housing at affordable rents for single homeless people". Arlington House is more than 100 years old and is famed for once housing the author of 1984 and Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell. Mr Wake reassured residents, who have been confused and angered by news of a sale, that Arlington would continue to be a place of refuge for sough sleepers. "The future of Arlington will remain as a hostel - this is the wish of Camden, the condition of the transfer and set out in the planning permission as a legal document. Only Camden could overturn this and, as the hostel forms part of its strategic provision and Pathways programme, Arlington will remain a hostel." Novas Scarman had recently embarked on a ¬¨¬£25m renovation project that aimed to update the communal and sleeping spaces for residents and would see the number of beds reduced from 370 to just 130. Long-term residents of Arlington House are to be re-housed permanently within the newly renovated buildings. Mr Wake said this was part of Arlington's work with Camden's Pathway Programme, which resettles homeless people in the borough. "Camden and NSG is aware that there will be approximately 35 to 40 of the older long-term residents who will not be able or willing to engage in this process and it may take some time, if at all, for them to consider alternative accommodation," said Mr Wake. "Thus, within the 130 beds to be provided, one whole floor has been developed with highquality rooms, with en-suite, wheelchair access and so on, to accommodate this group and anticipate their needs over the long term." Other projects linked to Arlington in the Camden area, such as the Novas shop, are to be consolidated into other parts of the city where Novas has operations, such as Westminster and Southwark. The process for moving the gallery and shop into Arlington House will now be brought forward to take part during the renovation work, rather than afterwards. Mr Wake denied that Novas was in any kind of financial trouble. Last year the group reported an operating deficit of ¬¨¬£277,000. He said the transfer was part of the long-term withdrawal from housing management and maintenance, to allow Novas to focus upon social enterprise work.
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