Revamp of homes for the elderly to go ahead
A REVAMP of housing for the elderly in St Albans district is to go ahead despite objections and a petition with more than 850 names. St Albans District Council s Cabinet agreed at its meeting on Tuesday that five sheltered housing schemes would close and
A REVAMP of housing for the elderly in St Albans district is to go ahead despite objections and a petition with more than 850 names.
St Albans District Council's Cabinet agreed at its meeting on Tuesday that five sheltered housing schemes would close and be redeveloped over the next six years as part of the council's plans to bring its elderly care accommodation up to 21st century standards.
The decision was taken in the face of a strong turnout from residents of two of the closure-threatened schemes, Linley Court in Valley Road and Caroline Sharpe House in Chiltern Road
Michael Clark, who acts as a spokesperson for residents of Caroline Sharpe House, presented cabinet with the petition and said: "We're happy with what we've got and we just want to be left alone to continue our lives."
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Elderly residents of all five St Albans schemes set to close - the others are The Grange, Laelia House and Victor Smith Court - will be offered a package of measures in an attempt to soften the blow.
As well as a £4,700 home loss payment to compensate for disturbance, residents will also be given priority to return to their redeveloped home and a promise that the district council will do their best to keep friends together in the temporary accommodation.
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Caroline Sharpe House, which has residents aged between 66 and 96, will be one of the first sites to close in 2009 and work is expected to be finish two years later. It will be carried out by a housing association.
Karen Dragovich, the council's director of housing, explained at the meeting: "We have carried out surveys at all the homes in question and the results show that the majority of residents do want change. Many residents, including those from homes professing opposition such as Linley Court, want two bedroom apartments instead of sheltered housing, for example."
She added: "We have estimated a 69 percentage rise in the population of people aged 85 and over in the district and, at present, there is no accommodation which specifically caters for their needs. We can change that by developing the district's housing scheme to include facilities such as 24 hour care."
Chair of the Cabinet Cllr Robert Donald said he understood why some elderly residents were upset by the situation: "The council has been accused of showing a lack of respect and dignity and I admit that it looks as if we are forcing residents to leave home albeit temporarily. But the reality is that we want to provide improved accommodation for our elderly residents both now and for the future. We can't operate as a landlord knowing that 83 units are empty out of 361 sheltered scheme flats."
He added: "I wish I could wave a magic wand and it would all be done without stress and disturbance. I know it's unsettling for old people when change is proposed so we intend to minimise the impact as much as possible."
But after the meeting Sandridge parish Cllr John Foster, who is backing the Caroline Sharpe House residents warned that he thought the majority would, "adamantly refuse to move."
And resident Mabel Breed, 84, commented: "We're just names on a piece of paper to them - everything was fait accompli before we were even told about it. I'm certainly staying put unless they can house me in Marshalswick within walking distance of my church.