Denby Court may be knocked down and replaced.
Devastated elderly residents of a Lambeth sheltered housing unit may discover they are being forced out into temporary accommodation in the next few weeks.
Lambeth Council has proposed Denby Court, on Lambeth Way, be knocked down and replaced with two blocks of ‘extra care’ flats, forcing people as old as 89 to move into temporary accommodation.
A final decision on the plans, part of the council’s Older People’s Housing Strategy, should be made within three to five weeks, with residents of up to 35 years being told they could face two or three years in temporary accommodation at a discussion with councillors on September 20.
One particularly distressed woman left the discussion in tears, crying out: “If I can’t live here, what’s the use of living?” whilst many others raised serious concerns about a move.
Councillor Jim Dixon, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, guaranteed residents that rent and service charges would be no higher than what they currently pay, though he was unable to make the same promise for utilities and support charges.
Residents’ independence, loss of community and the necessity and quality of extra care also came under scrutiny at the discussion.
“We get better care here than what they get in extra care homes,” said 70-year-old Bruce Green.
Extra care homes are made for disabled people and have kitchen and bathrooms specifically designed for people in wheelchairs.
However, just one of the 41 people living at Denby Court uses a wheelchair, which has called them to question the reasons for replacing it with extra care facilities.
A 2004 study by Dr Peter Scourfield found that relocation could cause serious damage to the physical and mental wellbeing of the elderly, and Court Chair Larry Hutchinson believes the council is ‘more interested in money than them’.
If built, the council plans to sell some of the apartments built in Denby Court’s place rather than rent them out.
However, Cllr Dixon said: “Our plans for older people’s housing are based on a clear pledge – everyone who lives in older people’s housing in Lambeth will either have their homes improved or will be offered a more modern and accessible home nearby.
“This means older people in Lambeth will be able to live healthier and more independent lives. It is important to reiterate that no decisions have been made yet on future plans. The council is listening to everyone’s feedback.”
There are currently 24 sheltered housing units in Lambeth. The council plans to upgrade 15 of these, turn five into extra care facilities and sell the remaining four for funds.
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