£20m to be spent on Wealden sheltered homes

Graham Wells
Graham Wells
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Vulnerable and older people who live in sheltered accommodation throughout Wealden could soon find a dramatic improvement in their living standards.

Almost £20-million is set to be spent on upgrading bedsits, apartments and all types of housing over the next ten years. The District Council’s Cabinet has just approved an ongoing programme of re-investment in its sheltered housing schemes.

Cllr Graham Wells, District Council Cabinet member for housing and asset management, told the Express: “At present we can’t say exactly which schemes will be remodelled first but I can tell you Grants Hill House, Uckfield, is set for major improvements. There are four residents there waiting to be re-housed while the work goes on. People living in these schemes will be moved to other, suitable accommodation while the changes are made. Some might want to stay there, others might want to go back.”

He explained that there are currently many bedsits in the sheltered housing stock and these are not always considered suitable, given present needs and upgraded standards.

“At present we have five schemes earmarked for early development and money will also be spent remodelling. We were given the option to buy housing stock from central Government under terms of a 30 year loan and we can use the rental income to improve conditions for residents as well as pay off some of the loan. This means this money can be recaptured for repairs and maintenance.”

Cllr Wells described the schemes as the ‘hidden jewel’ in Wealden’s housing crown, but in some cases they are in need of modernisation.

“The type of bedsits provided in a few schemes is no longer popular so we need to remodel the layout of existing homes with the potential to rebuild where modernisation is not practical. Now we have a self-financing housing revenue account we can plan a long term programme to ensure we continue to provide the most suitable accommodation in the future. It’s important that we plan ahead to avoid any unnecessary disruption by making use of the available space in our neighbouring schemes.

“With a steady increase in the elderly population, we are taking a long term view so we can provide the most suitable schemes for the future. Extensive consultation will be carried out with residents before any rebuilding work takes place.”

The major part of the programme will begin next year.