Pensioner’s long wait for neighbours is over

An 87-year-old man who has been the only resident in a �6million luxury retirement village for three years finally has neighbours.

Les Harrington moved in to the plush gated development in Witham in October 2007 expecting to make new friends but no-one else moved in.

Homebridge Village boasted a hotel-style restaurant, cleaning and laundry services, a gardener, home-delivered meals and a swanky gym but Les was still missing one thing on the site - friends.

The former delivery driver believed the development had fallen victim to the credit crunch after promised sales fell through.

Mr Harrington said: “When I first moved here there were lots of people interested, I used to go and talk to them about living here.

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“I think about 15 places had deposits put down on them but one guy had a death in the housing chain so that fell through and I think the credit crunch has killed off other interest.”

His wishes for neighbours have now been granted and last week, new residents have been moving onto the site after planning rules were changed to allow under-55s to move in.

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Mr Harrington moved from Holland-on-Sea into the 2.4 acre development on a Grade II listed former Victorian workhouse and hospital with wife Doris just before the recession.

But after she died in 2008 after battling motor neurone disease he was alone at the village.

The father of two and grandfather of four, who served with the RAF in France, Belgium and Burma, was regularly visited by his daughters Sherri Kent, 46, and Julie O’Neill, 51.

He also struck up a friendship with on-site handyman Keith, but it was not the same as having real neighbours.

Developers Bridge Hospital (Witham) Ltd went into administration last year and made a bid to change the use from a retirement home to make them available for everyone.

Earlier this year, Fairview New Homes took on the sales of these properties which are now available to any buyer. Last week people started moving in.

Mr Harrington said: “Having spent nearly three years at this development as the only resident, it feels wonderful to finally get some neighbours.

“People of all ages have started to move in over the last week or so and everyone I have met seems very nice.

“It will be lovely to have people to say hello to and to see neighbours going about their daily business around me.

“Even to see lights on in different homes at night will be a change from what I’m used to.”

“I am very happy that these lovely and historical homes are now getting new owners, which will breathe some life into the area.”

After living in the ghost town, Mr Harrington is set to be overrun with neighbours as just five of the 33 properties remain unsold.

The homes are converted Grade II listed properties set in landscaped gardens ranging from �129,995 to more than �189,995.

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