Suffolk: Changes are proposed for sheltered housing schemes

Changes are proposed for sheltered housing schemes

CHANGES have been proposed for five sheltered housing schemes in Suffolk following a decline in demand.

Havebury Housing Partnership is consulting on the proposals which will affect Beetons Lodge in Bury St Edmunds, Erskine Lodge in Great Whelnetham, Westbourne Court and William Blake Court, which are both in Haverhill, and Churchill Close in Clare.

Some of the proposals include investing in building new flats, revamping existing bedsits into one-bedroom flats or making some accommodation de-sheltered.

The housing association, which has 12 sheltered schemes in total, has seen a drop in demand for sheltered accommodation, which Philip Sullivan, director of operations at Havebury, said had partly prompted the review of its existing provision.

The proposals are:

•to de-shelter some flats outside of the core scheme at Beetons Lodge over time

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•to build brand new flats at the Erskine Lodge site

•to improve the accommodation at William Blake Court, which is bedsits, by building brand new flats nearby, closer to the town centre

•to convert, initially, five bedsits at Westbourne Court into one-bed flats

•for one of the blocks at Churchill Close to become de-sheltered over time

William Blake Court and Erskine Lodge are set to remain as being for the over 60s, but it is planned that the de-sheltered wing at Beetons Lodge would be for the over 50s, as would be the whole scheme at Westbourne Court.

At Churchill Close it is planned that there would be no age criteria for the de-sheltered block and the remainder would be for the over 50s.

There has also been consultation over Autumn Close in Bury St Edmunds, but there are no proposed changes to it.

Mr Sullivan said Havebury was committed to providing excellent, modern facilities for current and future residents.

“We have been listening to feedback from residents at these six schemes as well as members of the community. We will continue working closely with these parties to ensure we provide the best possible accommodation and services for the longer term.”

He said generally Havebury’s sheltered schemes were very popular, but with a handful there had been empty flats, adding when they were filled it had taken a long time. Erskine Lodge has five empty flats out of 23, which is just over 20%.

The reasons for the decline included the facilities not being as modern as prospective residents would have hoped and a general trend of older people staying in their own homes for longer, with support coming to them.

Karen Mayhew, chief executive at Havebury, said the investment would amount to thousands of pounds if updating existing properties, but would reach the millions if new homes were built.

Havebury has already refurbished a number of its schemes, including Thingoe Lodge in Fornham All Saints.

Mrs Mayhew said: “We will consider each site individually, talking to residents and people who care about what happens to the scheme.

“Only when we have gathered all the information will we reach a decision on the best way forward.”

She added: “We are aware this is very unsettling for elderly people.”

Mr Sullivan emphasised that at Beetons Lodge and Churchill Close no-one would have to move.

There are due to be more meetings with residents about the proposals in two to three weeks time, with one-to-one meetings where appropriate.

The current review follows the closure of Field Court Stanton in 2011 due to lack of demand.

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