Cruise ship plan to tackle housing crisis for 'desperate citizens' in Devon

Torridge District Council voted to explore the idea in December Credit: Josiah Weiss/Unsplash

Refugees and homeless people could be housed on cruise ships under new plans to tackle the housing crisis in part of Devon.

Torridge District Council voted to look into the feasibility of leasing or renting a vessel to accommodate emergency or other housing list people.

At a full council meeting in December, proposals to accommodate refugees and homeless people on cruise ships in Devon were discussed.

Councillors voted "overwhelmingly" in support of the motion put forward by Cllr David Brenton.

His motion said: “With the large numbers of cruise ships being scrapped or laid up due to a fall in demand following Covid.

"I propose that we explore the feasibility of forming a partnership with our neighbouring authorities i.e North Devon and Exeter - with a view to leasing or renting a vessel to accommodate emergency or other housing list people.

“Cruise ships have a high standard of habitation and self-contained servicing and a suitable craft which would fit into Middle Dock could provide a quick solution for some of our desperate citizens needing housing.”

“We live in radical times which call for radical measures."

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Brenton added: “We live in radical times which call for radical measures to alleviate them. We do need to look at what’s coming our way and it’s about to hit the fan. It’s getting quite serious now over the question of accommodation.

“It is feasible I believe. They are scrapping perfectly good accommodation because there is no demand for it.

"We are in a unique position where we own Middle Dock which has got a good birthing situation there, despite over the years the shipyard had bought out some vast vessels to park alongside there.

Cllr Rachel Clarke added: “The idea in principle is very good. My concern is that when you put lots of people in tight accommodation like that, you’ve got to think of diseases and illnesses which could happen.

"Do we have the right infrastructure for doctors and nurses which we have a major problem with?

“It needs a lot of work and you’ve got to spread it out as there are other things, such as alcohol or drug issues. It’s not an easy fix. We’ve just got to think it through properly.”

Adding his opinion, Cllr Peter Christie said: “When I saw this first, I suspect I had the same feeling as many of us that this was slightly crackers. Having said that, I think it is worth looking at.

“I used to be in the merchant navy, and the big problem with ships is maintenance. I think we need to approach the harbourmaster, Appledore Shipyard, and ask them about this. It could be an ongoing cost that is so high it would rule it out, but by all means let’s look at it.”

Torridge District Council had previously declared that it was committed to tackling the housing crisis in the area.

Previous ideas included the possible use of modular housing units, evaluating options to reduce the number of empty homes and bringing forward schemes in partnership with local social housing providers.