December 11 2013 Latest news:
Friday, September 27, 2013
Sheltered housing residents being forced out of their homes have been told that social landlords Luminus would like them gone by the end of November.
The Hunts Post was invited by residents of Langley Court, St Ives, to attend a meeting last Friday (September 20) with Luminus’s operations executive director Nigel Finney, who explained why residents needed to make way for a new £7.3million extra care home planned for the site.
Mr Finney said he called the meeting to eliminate some rumours and to explain the timeline for the project. He told residents Luminus discovered last November that Government funding for extra care facilities was being offered, but the deadline was January 2013 to submit a bid.
In July, Luminus found that it had gained £2.3m. It was after this that residents were informed of the plans to demolish their homes.
Mr Finney said he decided not to inform residents of the bid until Luminus heard it was successful as he believed it was “more compassionate”.
Residents were told that in Luminus’s experience of displacing residents when building Park View, an extra care facility in Huntingdon, people preferred to move in November so they were settled by Christmas.
Mr Finney said a planning application would be submitted to Huntingdonshire District Council, which has offered a £5m loan to fund the development, in December and hoped it would be granted by April, when work would start.
Thea Johnson, 86, who lives in Langley Court, accused Luminus of treating the residents as “parcels” and destroying a thriving community.
She said: “When people are being evicted from slums, the powers are forced to build new homes for them to move into. We are not being evicted from slums but we are being treated worse.”
Hilda Mead, 92, said: “I have lived here for 14 years and I don’t want to move. I will stay here until the bulldozers start knocking down the first bricks.”
When asked why Luminus was replacing Langley Court with a building with two fewer homes, Mr Finney replied: “There is a growing population of elderly people in Huntingdonshire and by 2021 county-wide there is a need for an extra 500 spaces in extra care facilities. In St Ives, there is a need for 50 extra care home places, which is why we are building it here.”
Why demolish Langley Court, residents asked, why not build elsewhere such as the former Murketts garage or St Ives Town Football Club?
Mr Finney said: “We own this land. We don’t own the other places. Langley Court as it is won’t conform to the required guidelines.”
He admitted Luminus had not looked elsewhere.
The first two residents have already moved out while 18 of the 57 residents have found alternative places to live.