Sleeping pods used to house security staff at the London 2012 Olympics are being used by a Cambridgeshire care home to house staff.
The pods have planning consent until 2027 but the care home says its been hit by a health and safety issue over the use of cooking facilities in the pods.
“Following a recent inspection by its insurers, a health and safety issue has been identified such that the centre’s insurance will not be valid if the cooking facilities continue to be used,” says agents for Soham Lodge Care Home.
“As a result, the centre has had to make alternative arrangement for the six staff members who live in the pods.”
JTS Partnership has applied for retrospective planning permission on behalf of the owners to continue to use a “small welfare” unit that it brought onto the site off the A142 Soham by-pass last year.
“It is located in front of the pods and provides basic facilities including a kettle, toaster, two ring hobs and microwave,” says JTS.
“The unit is needed so that staff members can make a cup of tea to drink when the centre’s kitchens are closed (i.e. when working on a night shift).
“The staff welfare unit is small in scale, and has a width of 4.8 metres, a depth of 2.75 metres and an eaves height of 2.7 metres. It has a small floor area of 13.2 square metres.”
The company, in their application, says that East Cambridgeshire District Council, had previously accepted that the centre “has a pressing business need to provide temporary accommodation for its staff.
“Without it, the centre cannot attract sufficient, appropriately qualified staff to open all of its room and, it will continue to have to turn away residents and operate at a much-reduced capacity.
“As part of the package of accommodation, the centre needs to provide a minimum level of facilities, include a place where staff can make a cup of tea or make themselves a basic meal when the centre’s kitchen is closed.”
Soham Lodge Care Centre is a 34-bed care home that specialises in bariatric and complex care cases.
JTS says it provides specialist, around the clock, care “and, like the rest of the sector, it has been suffering from a severe shortage of staff such that, despite having introduced temporary measures, it has had to keep many of its rooms empty.
“The centre also has permission to add another 7 rooms (taking the total to 41) but cannot bring these online due to staffing issues.
“In order to increase occupancy levels, the centre has provided temporary staff accommodation on site in the form of a mobile home, a static caravan and three double sleeping pods.”
JTS says the mobile home and static caravan have appropriate facilities but those in the sleeping pods are inadequate and the centre needs to make alternative arrangements by using a temporary welfare unit.
“The welfare unit is required to meet the basic needs of some of the staff who live on site,” JTS adds in their submission to East Cambs planners.
A decision is expected within the next two months.
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