The initial disquiet ‘has settled down’ after the shock news for residents that a sheltered housing scheme in Ponteland is to be redeveloped.
In March, Karbon Homes revealed that the 29 residents of Athol House would have to move out to enable the site to be upgraded as ‘many of the homes are bedsit-style flats, which are too small and no longer appropriate’.
The not-for-profit provider wants to replace the current development with 32 one and two-bedroom flats – a mix of affordable rented apartments, shared ownership and some for market sale.
But at the Castle Morpeth Local Area Council meeting on Monday night, Karbon’s development manager Vince Walsh said that it was likely to be six months to a year before a planning application is submitted.
He described it as ‘a fairly long gestation period for the project’, which will benefit from some grant funding from the Government’s Homes England agency.
“Anyone who wants to go back can go back, we are not barring anyone from doing that,” he added.
Older persons manager Jon McDonald told councillors that 18 people have moved out since March and ‘the feedback has generally been good’.
Recently, two relocated to an extra-care facility in Prudhoe while another moved into a bungalow in Ponteland, which they described as ‘the best thing they ever did’.
“The initial meeting was emotive, but we have been out to meet people to emphasise that we have done this before and that no one is getting forced out,” he said.
“It’s settling down now because some have moved out and their feedback has filtered back to residents.
“The problem is people want to stay in the Ponteland area and we don’t have many suitable properties available.”
Mr Walsh added: “That’s another reason we have stepped back because we are aware it will take a bit longer as Ponteland is a very desirable area.”
Elsewhere in Northumberland, Karbon Homes has carried out a similar project at Trinity Court in Corbridge and is midway through the process for St Cuthbert’s Close sheltered housing in the centre of Hexham.
By Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service