Residents of the Fitch Court sheltered housing scheme on Effra Road have expressed relief after being told they could be moved to a new development on Somerleyton Road rather than made to move out of Brixton.
Under plans from Lambeth Council, Fitch Court residents will have to leave their homes so the site can be redeveloped.
Residents of the site’s 34 flats, which provide sheltered housing for older people, had been told this might mean leaving Brixton – an announcement that worried those who had been in the area for decades.
However, plans published by the council last week suggested they could instead be moved straight to Somerleyton Road, where a new development project will include homes, work spaces and a theatre.
Carlton Guy, a representative of Fitch Court residents, told councillors at a cabinet meeting last week: “I’ve never seen such happiness as the residents at Fitch Court.
“Most people have been living there for at least 10 years, and up to 21 years. People were very concerned about moving out of Brixton.
“So the news about the option of moving to Somerleyton Road was just wonderful.”
The council papers said the move to Somerleyton Road “could bring a number of significant advantages, including a single move for tenants, from one permanent home to another, a closer location to Brixton town centre, and the possibility of redeveloping Fitch Court, once it has been vacated, as a fifth scheme to provide general needs affordable accommodation.”
The decision to move residents is part of a major overhaul of care for the elderly by Lambeth council.
Under the council’s plans, four sheltered housing schemes in Lambeth (Leigham Court Road in Streatham, Westcott Close in West Norwood, McCall Close in Stockwell and Queenswood Court near Gipsy Hill) will be closed down, with residents moved to other homes.
According to council papers these sites will be “vacated and sold for the development of affordable general needs housing units”.
Fitch Court is one of three, alongside Denby Court near Lambeth North and Elderberry Grove in West Norwood, that was scheduled to move its residents out and be developed as “extra care housing”, a form of independent living for people with disabilities or long-term conditions that require extra support.
Speaking at the cabinet meeting, councillor Jim Dickson (Labour) said the council’s plans were part of a long-term move to support elderly people to live independently at home for longer rather than moving into residential care. Some of the borough’s sheltered housing was in a poor condition, he said.
“It’s not going to be easy, but we need to have the conversation rather than say, well, this is difficult so we’re not going to do it,” he said.