Elderly residents are being 'divided and isolated' by redevelopment of St Albans sheltered housing
PUBLISHED: 15:00 09 December 2016
Danny Loo Photography 2016
A resident of a sheltered housing scheme scheduled for redevelopment has hit out at the district council for 'dividing and isolating old people' by moving them out of their homes.
Mereden Court in Vesta Avenue, St Albans, is the latest sheltered housing scheme in the district to be redeveloped as part of a programme to upgrade and improve facilities.
But resident Gordon Greig maintains that the closure of Mereden Court with residents moving elsewhere will destroy the good community spirit at the flats.
He said residents had pride in the building and gardens, held good coffee morning and weekly DVD film nights which would all disappear when it closed.
In a letter to the council’s housing department, he said: “Instead of bringing people together, you are dividing and isolating old people.
“You move them from their friends and all the local contacts that form their lives, move them into isolation where they fret and die.”
Mereden Court is the latest sheltered housing scheme in the district to be redeveloped or rebuilt after the council decided some years ago that the facilities needed to be upgraded as the flats were becoming increasingly hard to let.
Mr Greig refuted council claims that the flats were unlettable and maintained no attempt had been made to advertise or promote them. He said that no show flats had been presented so people could see what could be achieved.
He has asked the council for guarantees that he will not be ‘forced’ from his flat again, heating will be laid on in his new accommodation as at present and facilities for washing and drying will be available including an outside area.
In his response to Mr Greig, the council’s strategic housing manager, David Reavill, said that the council had been in the process of redeveloping its sheltered housing for nearly a decade, during which time a number had been refurbished and redeveloped, providing affordable housing for elderly people and families.
He stressed that during that time, the council had found many residents anxious about moving from their homes and offered as much or as little support as they required.
With regard to Mr Greig’s ‘guarantees, he said he could not promise he would not be moved from his home again but thought it was ‘extremely unlikely’ He also suggested two sheltered housing schemes - one in Redbourn and the other in Park Street - which offered both heating within the rent and laundry and drying facilities.
Mr Reavill added that the council attempted to make what could be a ‘difficult and unsettling experience’ to be as easy as for residents as possible.