Published: 11:15, 26 October 2021
| Updated: 11:17, 26 October 2021
A national charity supporting young homeless and unemployed people has completed the purchase of what will be its first centre in Kent.
Amber Foundation has acquired the 13-bedroom Downsview Guesthouse in Ashford after securing planning permission to convert the building into a supported accommodation for young people aged 16-30.
The property in Willesborough Road, Kennington, will provide temporary housing for up to 26 residents at any one time, following referral by charities, hostels, local housing authorities and probation services.
Paul Rosam, chief executive of Amber Foundation, said: "This is great news as we know there is a growing need across Kent for the support we offer.
"Work on converting the guest house can get under way immediately and we hope to open its doors in the early part of 2022.
"The last couple of years have been particularly difficult for young people, especially those who may not have had the best start in life. Our Ashford centre means we will be able to help some of the county's estimated 2,500 young homeless get their lives back on track."
An Ashford centre will add to the charity's existing centres in Devon, Surrey and Wiltshire, from where it provides education, training and employment support, and works closely with local authorities and other charity partners.
Ashford Borough Council's planning officers granted permission in September, without the need to go to planning committee, as the change of use application complied with local planning policies.
Over more than 25 years the charity has taken more than 4,000 young people through the Amber programme, which focuses on physical health and mental well-being, employment readiness, independent living and personal development.
Funding for the Ashford centre has been provided by the Henry Oldfield Trust, a grant-giving charity chaired by Richard Oldfield, Deputy Lieutenant of Kent and former High Sheriff, and a trustee of Amber Foundation.
He said: "Amber has a strong reputation for working in partnership and supporting the community. Its arrival in Kent will help get young people into training and the world of work.
"I've seen first-hand how Amber works and the Henry Oldfield Trust is delighted to be helping make its vision for a centre in Kent a reality."
Originally the manor house to Holmlea Farm, the guest house sits on a one-acre site with 13 en-suite guest bedrooms and a two-bedroom apartment/holiday let.
The site, which was put on the market for £1.5m earlier this year, triumphed on Channel 4's 'Three in a Bed' programme in 2011.
The young people using the site will stay in shared rooms with communal cooking and dining facilities.