12 May 2022

Councillor Phil Bialyk officially opened YMCA Exeter’s brand new Sidwell Studios with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday 10th May, 11am.

The event, attended by city and county Councillors, marks the unveiling of a fantastic joint venture to tackle Exeter’s 1-bed housing crisis by taking an abandoned warehouse near the city centre and converting it into 26 self-contained studio apartments. Each studio will provide a young person with a longer term, affordable home and support where needed.

The site, originally intended for student accommodation, is a groundbreaking initiative. Since 2019, the one-bed housing need has increased by 41% with 558 local young people on the waiting list. YMCA Exeter are delighted to have completed the development thanks to the significant investment from both Homes England and Exeter City Council as well as donations from many charitable trusts and local supportive individuals and businesses.

Gareth Sorsby, YMCA Exeter Joint CEO says:

We are delighted to see our vision to transform this abandoned warehouse into affordable housing become a reality. These new homes will make an incredible difference to young people who have come through supported accommodation and who will finally be able to afford to move into a suitable self-contained home, in the heart of Exeter.”

The unique housing initiative is based on a model that will help young people to feel embedded in their community, but also be financially safe for them. The new development sits adjacent to St Sidwell’s Community Centre, providing the opportunity for residents to access vocational skills workshops and a community allotment.

Councillor Phil Bialyk, Leader of Exeter City Council, says:

“I was delighted to attend the formal opening and cut the ribbon at the new Sidwell Studios housing development led by YMCA Exeter. This former warehouse has been converted into 26 new homes for young people who are ready to move out of supported accommodation.

“The self-contained studio flats are a fantastic and much-needed facility in the city centre, and I was delighted to be given the opportunity to have a look around.”

For many young people, the risk of losing work makes it difficult for them to find and maintain rented accommodation. In the new Sidwell Studios, YMCA Exeter tenancy workers will provide early intervention if any tenant starts to struggle to get the tenancy back on track.