Ashley Court residents spend second Christmas in temporary housing

Google Maps image of Ashley Court assisted living housing block in Hatfield.

Ashley Court is an assisted living housing block in Hatfield. - Credit: Google Maps

Residents who were moved out of a Hatfield housing block due to a fire have now spent two Christmases in temporary housing.

In the wake of an electrical fire at Ashley Court on December 15 2020, homeowners - many of whom are older and require additional care - have been living in temporary accommodation while work takes place to restore the housing block.

Sanctuary Housing, who owns the block, told us in October that the fire caused severe damage to the building but, "despite the complexity of the rebuild, work has progressed well".

A fire took place at Ashley Court off Wellfield Road in Hatfield

A fire took place at Ashley Court off Wellfield Road in Hatfield - Credit: Harpenden Fire

Even though residents weren't living in Ashley Court last year, they were still expected to pay monthly service charges to Sanctuary Housing. 

One occupant said they were paying £225 per month. Sanctuary Housing maintains that residents "only pay for the services they are continuing to use".

These services include the role of the scheme manager and the warden call system, "which continues to be available for all residents if needed". Some costs will no longer be incurred, such as cleaning of communal areas.

To make matters worse, in October Ashley Court was broken into and thieves entered B-14 flats.

Terence Bell, 86, who owns a flat in the housing block, is now living in St Audrey's Care Home. His mother's wedding ring, his grandmother's wedding ring and his father's pocket watch were all stolen in the raid.

Because Terry's flat was only secured with a padlock on his front door, he is unable to claim on insurance. 

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"He's really upset. Not just upset but angry too. He just wants to be at his home," Terry's great-niece Emma Adkins said.

On contacting the housing association, Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps sent us the following letter about their reply:

"The response I received from Sanctuary Housing was very disappointing and didn’t address the issues from the residents’ perspective at all.

"This is now the 2nd Christmas that residents will be away from their homes and that is totally unacceptable.

"Sanctuary Housing needs to seriously review their approach as to how they manage major incidents such as this and keep the residents at the forefront of their plans. They have shown little understanding and compassion for the terrible time the residents have gone through.”

A spokesperson for Sanctuary said: “We are working with contractors to ensure that the homeowners are back in their homes as soon as possible and we will continue to support them through this time."