Sheltered housing in Mid Suffolk and Babergh set to change - more homes to be available for general rent

Mid Suffolk District Council Offices ENGANL00120131104102527
Mid Suffolk District Council Offices ENGANL00120131104102527
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Sheltered housing in Babergh and Mid Suffolk is set to change following a major review of the needs of older people in the two districts.

Reports to councillors in both districts state that funding - housing related support grants - is likely to cease from 2018 and that demand for some of the sheltered housing schemes is low. Changing demographics also show some elderly people now require more specialist housing or residential accommodation rather than sheltered housing.

A survey also found that some residents do not use the services of scheme managers who are available to visit three times a week.

Among the schemes councillors are asked to re classify from sheltered housing to general housing are Albert Close, Rickinghall, Hurstlea Court bungalows in Needham Market, Jubilee Court bungalows, Stowupland, Millars Close, Walsham-le-Willows, Richer Close, Badwell Ash, School Close, Norton, St George’s Road, Stowlangtoft, St Nicholas CLose, Rattlesden, The Orchard, Felsham, Victoria Gardens, Wattisfield and Woodlands Close, Thurston. Several sites will remain sheltered schemes including Jubilee Court, Stowupland, Weston Court, Stowmarket and The Croft Tostock.

Shelterd schemes in Babergh affected include Hill House, Bildeston and Spring Street/Spring Lane, Lavenham. Tenterpiece in Lavenham will remain sheltered housing.

Other schemes to be de-designated are First Avenue, and Grimwood Corner, Sudbury but schemes at Clover Court, Great Cornard., Elizabeth Court and Playford Court, Sudbury and Steeds Meadow, Long Melford, remain designated sheltered schemes.

An alarm and visiting service will continue to be offered to those vulnerable residents who still need support even if schemes have been proposed for general housing use.

Opposition councillors at Mid Suffolk have warned that re-classifying sheltered housing would expose them to ‘Right to Buy’ and they could be lost from the district’s social housing stock.

Cllr Sarah Mansel, Mid Suffolk housing portfolio shadow member, said: ”We have invested tax payers’ money in building and equipping these homes to meet the special needs of the most vulnerable in our communities. We have no problem letting these properties to other tenants but should not de-designate them as that would risk their discounted sale meaning they were no longer available to meet special needs.”

Andrew Stringer, Green Group leader, said: “This makes little sense when set against the problems of the NHS struggling to send patients to safe homes... There is talk of more domiciliary services to support people in their own homes, but we should not diminish our sheltered provision unless alternatives are already in place.”

But Cllr John Levantis, Mid Suffolk District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing Delivery said: “Over the years, the provision of sheltered accommodation has become less than ideal with some residents living in properties that are not suited to their needs. This review has given us an opportunity to focus our support where it is most needed and in the long term, to ensure we have the right type of housing and tenure in the right places.”