By Kaye Wiggins
Scores of local residents have packed into Brixton’s town hall to oppose a council plan that could see elderly people removed from their homes and sheltered housing developments knocked down.
Under a proposal from the council, sheltered housing developments in Streatham, Stockwell and West Norwood would be demolished and the land would be sold. Other sheltered housing would be reclassified as “social housing”.
The council’s plan would mean the residents of 289 properties, including Fitch Court on Effra Road, would have to leave their homes.
At Monday’s town hall meeting, councillors and council staff reassured residents that everyone who had to leave their home would be given better-quality housing than they were currently in.
However, several residents criticised the plan. Moira Pettingell told councillors: “When my husband and I moved into sheltered housing it was one of the best things to happen to us. We really feel it’s a good community. We need more sheltered housing, not less.”
Christina Burnett, director of Vauxhall Community Interest Company, urged the council to rethink its plans. “Housing units are only bricks and mortar, but the sense of community and belonging that comes with them is at least as important,” she said.
Other residents warned councillors that there was evidence to show that the disruption caused by moving elderly people into new homes could have an impact on their health.
Labour councillor Jim Dickson told residents at the meeting: “A lot of our sheltered housing stock isn’t in the proper condition. Some of it isn’t adapted for people’s needs.
“I know what a huge disruption this will be to the individuals involved and I really don’t underestimate that,” he said. “I do recognise that even with these reassurances it will be a very difficult time. We will talk it through with people so they know what the council is proposing here.”
Cllr Dickson said people would not have to move out for another two or three years, adding: “There will be lots of time to make sure everyone’s needs are met.”
The council is due to open a public consultation on the plans on 28th January.
The numbers: Lambeth council’s plan
- 465 units of sheltered accommodation, in 14 developments, will be “modernised”
- 4 developments (120 sheltered housing units) will be emptied and the land will be sold for general housing
- 5 developments (169 sheltered housing units) will be emptied and redeveloped as “extra care schemes” in which residents have access to personal care such as help with washing and dressing