Ridgewood land to be sold for new care home

Care home development site, Ridgewood
Care home development site, Ridgewood
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Uckfield’s town mayor has welcomed the news that a new care home for elderly people looks set to be built in Ridgewood.

His comments came after East Sussex County Council announced plans to sell nearly an acre of land as part of its Age Well Programme, aimed at providing new, high quality care facilities.

Cllr John Carvey told the Express: “We need to support older people in the town and I totally support any plans for a care home. I visited the new home at Five Ash Down and was amazed at the superb facilities. Older people deserve the very best that we can provide.”

The land is between Castle Rise and Highview Lane. Planning consent had already been granted for a 48-bed residential care unit with consulting rooms and refreshment area. But this has lapsed and a new application would need to be made.

The council is offering the site as either freehold with a restrictive covenant or a 99 year long leasehold interest subject to conditions.

The freehold sale would only go ahead if the buyer consents to developing an elderly care home on the site.

And the leasehold agreement would see the County Council have nomination rights over some beds, asking for bids of 10, 15 or 20 per cent of the total made available.

These must be high dependency dementia care or dementia nursing care capable of supporting long or short term stays. The Council pointed out that its terms mean companies or individuals bidding for the site would be free to provide any other type of care services for older people that they consider are a suitable mix, and for which there would be enough demand.

East Sussex faces very significant challenges to ensure there are enough suitable and affordable options available ‘to meet the needs of the most vulnerable and dependent in our society.’

And a spokesman points out that by 2010 there was a population of 507,557, which is projected to rise to 525,208 by 2015 and 545,110 by 2020. “The forecast percentage of the population which is aged 65-plus is set to grow from 23.4 per cent in 2010 to 27.2 per cent by 2020.” The deadline for offers is midday on Friday, March 22, 2013.

There are 14 care homes which offer facilities for dementia sufferers in Wealden, 26 in Rother, 11 in Lewes and 18 in Eastbourne but many have few or no vacancies so more suitable accommodation is urgently needed.

At the end of last year the Alzheimer’s Society launched a new initiative to improve dementia diagnosis rates in East Sussex. Over the first three months of 2013 the campaign will target villages and towns across the County aiming to promote the benefits of an early diagnosis and provide information about what help is available to people living in East Sussex.

At present, says a Society spokesman, only 38 per cent of people with dementia in the county have a formal diagnosis.