£15m redevelopment of sheltered housing in Hatfield

PUBLISHED: 11:56 01 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:56 01 December 2017

Minster House. Picture: Danny Loo

Minster House. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

Plans are in the pipeline to knock down sheltered housing in Hatfield and replace it with 70 new flats.

Minster Close. Picture: Danny LooMinster Close. Picture: Danny Loo

If given the go ahead, the £15million project would see Minster House demolished and replaced with new purpose-built sheltered housing for the borough’s older population.

There would be one and two-bed flats, communal areas, mobility storage and charging, lift access and landscaped gardens.

Welwyn Hatfield Council has yet to confirm whether its proposal will be for one large tower block or several smaller blocks.

There are currently 29 flats on the site, plus a communal space, kitchen and former warden flat, with a total of 26 residents.

Eighteen of the flats are occupied by council tenants and 11 are leased to Hospitallier Order of St John of God (HOSJG), which is a charity catering for people with a range of needs including learning and physical disabilities, people with mental health problems, elderly and the homeless.

A council spokesman said it would be down to HOSJG to re-house its own tenants in order for the redevelopment to take place.

The council spokesman added: “We would rehouse all existing council tenants if the redevelopment goes ahead.

“Individual meetings would be held with tenants to discuss their housing needs and ensure we find them a suitable home.

“We would also help organise everything that’s needed to move, including packing, removals, a handy person, mail redirections and utilities.

“All current Minster House tenants will be offered a home in the new development.”

The council consulted with residents on the plans in October and November, offering individual appointments to each council tenant.

According to feedback given to the council “tenants said they would value balconies, improved and accessible outdoor space, larger kitchens and improved accessibility within the building - such as wider doorways and sufficient space for mobility aids.”

Other tenants said they were “settled where they were, but understood the reasons for the proposals”.

In a council report, it states: “The proposal would include a permanent decant of all council tenants from the block, with a right of first refusal to all displaced tenants who have expressed a wish to return to a flat within the new development.”

Although tenants have been in talks with the council about moving out, the council would consider taking legal action to gain possession of the properties should tenants later refuse to leave.

Councillor Mandy Perkins, executive member for planning, housing and community, said: “We have a growing generation of older people living longer, healthier, more active lives, with higher and evolving aspirations for their housing in later years.

“Good quality housing that meets the changing needs of people as they age also has a range of positive effects on the health and wellbeing of older people.

“Sheltered housing needs to be modern, attractive and flexibly designed to meet the demand now and in the future and we’ve gathered some very useful feedback from Minster House residents to shape the designs we put forward next year.”

A planning application is expected to be submitted in August 2018 with a construction partner anticipated to be appointed in July 2019.

A HOSJG spokesman said: “Saint John of God Hospitaller Services is aware of the redevelopment of the Minster House site and is working in close co-operation with the local authority during this redevelopment period to ensure a smooth transition for its tenants.”

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