The future of two sheltered housing schemes for the elderly in Patchway has been secured following months of uncertainty after they were classified “at risk” because they needed “significant investment to remain open”.
Merlin Housing Society had previously named Charlton Court and Langdale Court in a list of ten properties that might have to close, following a review of all 50 of the society’s sheltered housing schemes across South Gloucestershire.
The decision, confirmed after a meeting of the society’s board on 14th June, comes after many rounds of meetings and informal and formal consultation with residents, local Councillors and MPs.
Patchway Councillors reported in September last year that rumours of possible closure were “causing upset” amongst the residents of the two Patchway schemes and the Town Council agreed to write to Merlin and South Gloucestershire Council asking for clarification.
Merlin carried out “in-depth surveys” of the properties towards the end of 2011 but stressed at that time that “no decisions had been made”, adding that the recommendations of the review were being “thoroughly scrutinised”.
The society conducted a formal consultation on draft proposals during spring 2012, ending on 8th May.
At Charlton Court, which has 27 tenants in 25 units, 14 tenants responded to the consultation with 13 agreeing to the recommended ‘option 1’ of doing basic improvement works and revisiting in ten years.
All ten of the respondents at Langdale Court, where there are 17 tenants in 17 units, agreed with the recommended ‘option 1’ of remodelling the scheme to produce improved older people’s housing.
Patchway Labour District Councillors claimed as early as 3rd April (at a meeting of the Town Council’s Finance Committee) that their efforts had successfully stopped the closure of the two homes. The minutes of that meeting record that:
“The Committee agreed with the Chairman that the three SG Councillors were to be congratulated on their campaign to stop the closure of Langdale and Charlton Courts which had been successful. Cllr. Orpen reported that Langdale Court was to be converted into 1 bedroomed flats and there would be no change at Charlton Court. The work at Langdale would start in 18 months, take 5 years to complete and would result in the loss of only four bed sits.”
However, in a recent statement to The Journal, a Merlin spokesperson emphasises that no final decision had been made by that date.
[Ed: Presumably the reported “success” related to the “recommended options” presented in the consultation document.]
Nevertheless, a recent press release put out by the Patchway Labour Group reiterates the claim, stating:
Charlton and Langdale Court have both been saved from decommissioning by local Labour Councillors. As part of its review of Sheltered Accommodation, both of the care homes (and ten others) had been red-listed, or recommended for decommissioning because of the extent of work required and their lack of future ‘profitability’.
However, both of the Sheltered Housing schemes in Patchway are full, well used and part of a community within a community. After discussions with the residents, local Labour councillors Eve Orpen, Keith Walker and Mike Grotzke led the charge in a bid to keep these care homes as care homes.
Commenting on the proposals, Mike Grotzke said:
“Both Charlton and Langdale are an active part of the Patchway Community, the schemes are the only such schemes in Patchway and it would have been wrong to decommission them.”
Patchway Labour helped residents set up a petition to keep both schemes as ‘Communities within Communities’ and made numerous representations to committees and Merlin citing their ideal location, the lack of voids in each home and the lack of a suitable local alternative if both were decommissioned.
Speaking on the recommendations, South Gloucestershire Labour Councillor Keith Walker stated:
“This is a win for the residents of both Charlton and Langdale Court. Both Schemes are popular, well used and an active part of the local community, and we are thankful that they will continue to be so.”
Merlin says that meetings were held on 9th July (Charlton Court) and 11th July (Langdale Court) to present the board decision and explain the next steps in the process to residents, their relatives, Councillors and MPs.
Tenants at another Merlin sheltered housing scheme in North Bristol were less fortunate: residents of Newleaze House in Filton have been told that their scheme is to undergo a “change of use”, possibly from as early as January 2017.
Related link: Supported Housing Stock Review (Merlin)