Fears social housing for the elderly will be lost

Residents want assurances from Horsham District Council that a care home redevelopment will not result in any loss of affordable housing for elderly people.

Thursday, 4th December 2014, 5:00 am
JPCT 211014 S14441355x Horsham. Residents outside the existing Evelyn Lancaster House -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141021-164103001

Care UK has applied for permission to demolish Evelyn Lancaster House in St Mark’s Lane and replace it with a specialist dementia nursing facility.

The building, currently owned by Southern Housing Group, was closed last year forcing 20 elderly people into new accommodation.

The plans being considered by the council describe an 80 en-suite bedroom home with a hairdressers, restaurant and activity rooms on the ground floor, landscaped gardens and 29 parking spaces.

However residents have raised concerns after it emerged a covenant ensuring the site is only used for social housing for elderly people, could be lifted.

Cor de Jong of the St Mark’s Lane Resident’s Group said: “This is not a bespoke development but a ‘cookie cutter’ produced 80 bed facility which Care UK have been building all over the country.

“There is no epidemic of dementia which Care needs to address at huge costs to residents.

“We do not want SHG developing more affordable housing around Horsham using proceeds from selling social housing of which there is a chronic shortage.”

But in a statement to the HDC planning department, Andrew Smith, council strategic housing manager says housing officers had no objection to the plans.

He writes: “The council and Southern Housing Group have negotiated an acceptable capital receipt for the council, as the council made the land available to Southern Housing Group as original subsidy for the scheme.

The council will therefore lift the covenant on the land requiring accommodation to be affordable.

“The second covenant on the land requiring accommodation to be provided for elderly residents will not be lifted.”

An council spokesman added: “The council works closely with registered providers to deliver affordable homes that meet the needs of all those in housing need, and that includes elderly people.

“Any elderly person in need of affordable housing in the Holbrook area can register both with the council and with Saxon Weald Homes.

“Sixty units of affordable Extra Care accommodation are currently under construction on the Highwood development in Horsham, to add to the stock throughout the town and the District.

“Further older persons’ accommodation is likely to form part of the overall affordable housing provision should the development at north Horsham go ahead.”

Regional director at Southern Housing Group Guy Collar said: “Southern Housing Group has worked closely with HDC to find a suitable future use for this scheme that will benefit the people of the area.

“The new facility, built and managed by Care UK, will provide much needed specialist dementia care and will create around 80 full time jobs for local people.

“Southern Housing Group will use any proceeds from the sale to continue to provide affordable housing to those who most need it.”