£3.2million council flats project in St Albans given go-ahead

Mereden Court.

Mereden Court. - Credit: Archant

A £3.2million project to refurbish a block of flats into new council homes is due to start later this year.

Mereden Court.

Mereden Court. - Credit: Archant

Planning permission to redesign and refurbish 18 new homes on the Mereden Court site in Tavistock Avenue has been given the go-ahead, subject to the signing of a community infrastructure obligation called a S106 agreement.

The new 14 one-bedroom and four two-bedroom properties will be assigned to people on the St Albans district council (SADC) housing waiting list.

Asbestos has already been cleared from the former sheltered housing block in Sopwell, a contractor is expected to be appointed by the end of July, and building work should commence from August.

Portfolio holder for housing and inclusion at SADC, Cllr Brian Ellis, said: “Mereden Court will provide affordable council homes of excellent quality to a range of people on our Housing Register.

Mereden Court.

Mereden Court. - Credit: Archant

“This accommodation could attract tenants looking to downsize from larger council homes, releasing those properties for families on the register.”

SADC plan to apply to Government agency Homes England for help with funding for this Mereden Court project.

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It came under scrutiny in December 2016, when a resident hit out at SADC for “dividing and isolating old people” when it moved them from their homes for the redevelopment.

Cllr Ellis said: “The redevelopment of the site as well as other sheltered housing blocks shows the strength of our commitment to delivering new modern homes for people in the district who are in housing need.”

An update on this project will be given to the SADC cabinet on March 21.

Mereden Court is one project in a programme of sheltered housing redevelopments around the district.

Linley Court in Valley Road is to be turned into 28 properties by Aldwyck Housing Group and Wavell House in Cell Barnes Lane is to be demolished to create 24 homes for the over 55s.

Betty Entwistle House in Holyrood Crescent has been demolished and transferred to housing association bpha, which has built 40 homes for rent and shared ownership.

SADC has been building new homes on little-used garage blocks as well, with 25 properties created in Batchwood and 23 in Sandridge.