Residents at a sheltered housing scheme in Ponteland will need to move elsewhere if plans to re-develop the site get the green light.
Housing provider Karbon Homes has announced that it carefully considered a range of options for Athol House, including whether it would be possible to refurbish or reconfigure the existing buildings, but the ‘type and layout of the building means that this is not practical’.
As a result, it is working on plans for a mixed tenure development of 32 new homes on the site in the form of one and two-bedroom affordable rented apartments, shared ownership apartments and some apartments for market sale.
An application will be considered by Northumberland County Council in due course. There are currently 35 homes at Athol House and 29 residents.
A Karbon Homes spokesman said: “Many of the homes are bedsit-style flats, which are too small and no longer appropriate for older customers, especially those with disabilities.
“The rented apartments will be let at an affordable rent, on the same basis as the existing homes at Athol House.
“Once the new building is complete, we would welcome former residents applying for one of the new homes.
“The proposed re-development would be funded by Karbon Homes, with some grant funding from the Government’s Homes England agency.
“As a not-for-profit organisation, without shareholders, any surplus generated from the development would be re-invested in Karbon providing more affordable homes in the communities we serve across the North East.
“To enable this re-development work to take place, we will need to work with the residents over the coming year to help find them suitable alternative homes, either with Karbon or another social landlord.
“We recognise that many of the residents will be upset by this news and it may be disruptive and unsettling.
“We are keen to work with residents and their families to minimise disruption wherever possible.
“Karbon Homes will cover all reasonable costs of our residents’ moves and we will also provide practical help and support.
“The residents will also all receive a substantial compensation payment for the loss of their home.
“We have already held a meeting with the residents to inform them face-to-face of the re-development we are proposing.
“Our team members are now holding follow-up meetings with each of the residents individually to talk about their needs, any special circumstances and requirements, and to take time to explain all the options available to them.
“Families and carers have been included in these discussions where appropriate, if the residents prefer this to happen.
“We have also contacted all the local town and parish councillors, county councillors and the MP for the area where Athol House is located to keep them informed.
“We believe we have an excellent track record of investing in the re-development of our existing sheltered accommodation to provide high quality new build homes.
“We have carried out similar projects at Trinity Court in Corbridge and at The Elms Extra Care in Chester-le-Street. We are also mid-way through a similar project in the centre of Hexham for our St Cuthbert’s Close sheltered housing.
“Whenever we have had to close sheltered housing schemes in the past, we have managed to re-house our residents satisfactorily, whether in a Karbon Homes property or with another social landlord.
“For any questions or concerns on this subject, please get in touch with our Older Persons team or our Development and Regeneration team on 0300 3001505.”