Northgate Lodge: The war is not won

Friday, 13 February, 2009

Defiant residents at Northgate Lodge sheltered housing are vowing to fight on to keep the complex intact, despite concessions from Havebury Housing Partnership.
Elderly and disabled tenants of the scheme, in Long Brackland, Bury St Edmunds, have dismissed moves by the housing association to slow down plans to divide the home, after consultation with residents.

Resident John Pask, 83, said: "This is just a ploy to placate people. We still have a fight on our hands. It is a battle won- but not the war."

In a newsletter to Havebury tenants, bosses at the partnership noted consultees wanted to keep the home's communal sitting area, garden, scheme manager and some laundry facilities.

After one-to-one interviews, the social landlord said plans to divide the home to provide accommodation for homeless and unsuitably housed people from St Matthew's Housing would go ahead, but more slowly to allow 'stakeholders' views to be taken into account.

Mr Pask said: "Listening to what people say is not the same as standing by it.

"Havebury has conceded nothing really. It is adamant to push these changes through."

Plans to move residents from 11 of the unit's 26 flats to seal off one wing of the home for St Matthew's tenants were revealed in January, before the housing partnership had fully consulted residents over the move.

Havebury claims no time scale has been set for the changes, but has formed a Joint Planning Group for Northgate Lodge residents, St Matthew Housing tenants and the scheme manager at the home.

Mr Pask added: "We are buoyant and defiant.

"People here are adamant they don't want anything to happen to the place."

David Ruffley, MP for Bury and Stowmarket, wrote to Karen Mayhew, director of operations at Havebury, after concerned residents contacted him over the row.

He said: "I may be old fashioned, but if tenants are happy in their accommodation, they should be left in peace."

Mrs Mayhew said: "I would like to reassure all the residents at Northgate Lodge that, as per the details in the newsletter, Havebury will be consulting further on the plans and taking on board the feedback from residents."