Community spirit will be lost when Horsham bungalows demolished and residents rehoused

JPCT 140314 Winterton Court, New Street, Horsham. Photo by Derek  Martin SUS-140314-150911001
JPCT 140314 Winterton Court, New Street, Horsham. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-140314-150911001

A pensioner admitted she thought she would ‘end her days’ living at her Winterton Court home, before it was revealed last week the community was to be demolished and its residents rehoused.

Saxon Weald chief executive David Standfast broke the news to shocked residents in person at a meeting on Wednesday March 12 that the site in New Street, Horsham, was to be converted into 60 new affordable homes.

As a result, the 30 pensioners living in bungalows at Winterton Court will need to be moved.

Pat Masters, 83, has lived at the site for the last two and a half years with her partner Jack, who is physically disabled and suffers from dementia.

She said: “We love it here and I thought I would end my days here.

“We have a community who get on well and look out for each other, and that will be the sad bit - we’ve got a social club and we get together to have coffee, and fish and chips.

“I know there are some here that are very disgruntled but life has to change completely at times.”

Pat said a number of the residents of Winterton Court would find the move ‘traumatic’, but she defended Saxon Weald for their handling of the changes.

She said: “If more housing has to be found, it’s better perhaps to be here than on a flood plain.

“I don’t think anyone can knock Saxon Weald, they are going to make this as easy as they can for everybody.

“We had a suspicion because there were two bungalows that were empty and in good condition, and they hadn’t filled them - but we never thought they would demolish it completely.”

Saxon Weald will be working closely with Horsham District Council to ensure the success of the scheme.

Pat believes she may move into a slightly bigger home to help care for Jack. The couple met 18 years ago.

She described the atmosphere at the meeting held by Mr Standfast as ‘not too bad’.

She added: “It wasn’t too bad. I thought it was going to be unpleasant but it wasn’t.

“I think they were very fair. There were a lot there that were more than upset about everything, but I think these things are cut and dried before they have a meeting.

“Some of them here are going to find it dreadful. It is going to be traumatic for some.”

Mr Standfast released a statement following last week’s meeting.

He said: “Obviously our news caused some shock and worry and a few residents were very against the idea.

“However, we were given a very fair hearing. Many had guessed that something was happening as we had left two homes vacant for several months, and of course Standings Court has already been redeveloped.

“Our team stayed to talk to residents individually after the initial announcement and we had good natured conversations.”

He continued: “We have a member of staff dedicated to helping older people to move home and she made appointments with everyone to talk to them individually about their preferences for rehousing.

“We have reserved bungalows and ground floor flats in Horsham that may be of interest to Winterton Court residents and they also have the option of returning to Winterton Court and living in a new home on the redeveloped site.”

A couple rehoused three years ago by Saxon Weald when their Alfrey Platt home closed down have reassured Winterton Court residents about the move.

Sue Holden, 74, and husband Dave, 76, moved to Nightingale House in Pulborough in 2011.

Sue said: “At first we didn’t want to move but sometimes you have to go with the flow! We knew it would be nice going in to a new flat so we stuck with it. It is a lovely flat, you couldn’t not like it - everybody that comes here wants to move in.”

Sue added the couple’s new home looks out on to green spaces and is two bedrooms where the previous home had one bedroom.

She said: “We were helped in any way we could be helped. Saxon Weald bought us a washing machine and tumble dryer.

“When you are told you are going to have to move you think the worst, but we couldn’t be happier now.”

The potential increase in traffic caused by the new homes in New Street has provoked concern on the County Times’ Facebook page.

User Emma Ford wrote: “60 more households worth of traffic on New Street/Station Road/Oakhill Road. Eek.”