Reprieve on cards for sheltered housing scheme

PUBLISHED: 10:54 02 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:37 06 May 2010

Mabel Breed says people don't want the upheaval of a move

Mabel Breed says people don't want the upheaval of a move

A SHELTERED housing scheme earmarked for closure in the next two years could be in line for a reprieve. Residents of Caroline Sharpe House in Chiltern Road, Marshalswick, are strongly opposed to its planned closure as part of a shake-up of housing for the

A SHELTERED housing scheme earmarked for closure in the next two years could be in line for a reprieve.

Residents of Caroline Sharpe House in Chiltern Road, Marshalswick, are strongly opposed to its planned closure as part of a shake-up of housing for the elderly in the St Albans district.

They made their feelings known at a meeting with council officers and leader of the council Robert Donald and have since drawn up a petition objecting to the closure.

And this week Cllr Donald confirmed that there was going to be a rethink about the future of Caroline Sharpe House and he thought the closure decision would be reversed.

He explained that it could be converted into some kind of mixed use for the elderly with a sheltered accommodation aspect together with flats or bungalows for elderly and extra care use.

Cllr Donald added: "Where residents have put up a strong case and facts to be considered, we will review the original decision and report back to cabinet in November."

One of the residents of the studio flats at Caroline Sharpe House, Mabel Breed, 84, said neither she nor her neighbours, who range in age from 66 to 96, wanted the upheaval of a move with the added uncertainty of not knowing where they would be moved to.

She explained: "We have all spent money on making it as comfortable as we can thinking this is where we mean to see our time out.

"We now have no certainty and no concrete assurances about where we are going and there is a danger that we will be put in temporary accommodation."

Mrs Breed, who has taken over responsibility for the gardens at Caroline Sharpe House, added: "Our argument is why don't they accommodate people in the four studio flats we have empty because the outside fabric of this building is very presentable and we just need a decent roof on the building.

She pointed out that Caroline Sharpe had a bus stop outside so the residents could get to the Quadrant for their shopping and visit its library and they could also get into the city centre or Jersey Farm if they wanted to without too much difficulty.

And she said the situation had caused so much worry among residents, whom she described as "like a big family", that they had held a social evening to try to cheer themselves up.

The council has proposed the closure of Caroline Sharpe together with The Grange, Laelia House, Victor Smith Court and Linley Court because it currently has around a quarter of its sheltered housing stock standing empty.

Most of it consists of bedsits and the council has found it increasingly difficult to attract elderly people to move into them with most saying they want one or two-bedroom accommodation or a bungalow.

As well as the five earmarked for closure, an additional seven have been selected for redevelopment to provide either sheltered care, elderly care or extra care.

The work will be carried out by a housing association which will become the new landlords of the tenants.

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