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Homes plan for Durham villages (From The Northern Echo)

PLANS to build nearly 40 affordable homes for older people on two former sheltered housing units have won cross-party support.

The Vela Group wants to build 38 apartments and bungalows on the sites of Oversteads House, in Ushaw Moor, and Brandon House, in Brandon.

On Wednesday, Durham County Council’s cabinet agreed to hand over the two plots free of charge.

The sites are thought to be worth a total of £285,000. However, transferring them at ‘nil value’ allows the project to access £1.3m from the Homes and Communities Agency.

Roberta Blackman-Woods, Labour MP for Durham City, said: “I am very pleased that after many years of campaigning on behalf of residents of Oversteads House in Ushaw Moor and Brandon House and their local communities that at last the county council is bringing forward plans to develop the two sites and provide much-needed local affordable housing.”

Councillor Clive Robson, the Labour-led council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “This is very good news and fulfils our commitment to re-provide, that we gave when we closed Oversteads and Brandon.

“The need for affordable housing far outweighs the money we could receive by the sale of the land.”

Coun Neil Foster, cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, said it was an innovative scheme and good use of the land.

Alan Napier, the council’s deputy leader, said: “When anything is removed – a service, a facility or someone’s abode – the alternative provision must be better. I think that will be the case when this development comes to its conclusion.

“It’s a win, win, win, win, win scenario.”

John Wilkinson, a Liberal Democrat councillor for Deerness Valley, said Oversteads House would never have met modern standards and he was delighted at the proposals.

“We need affordable housing in which our older people really want to live. I believe this would fit that purpose,” he said.

The two 1970s-built sheltered housing units closed in November 2010, despite outcry from their remaining 26 elderly residents.

Vela Group wants to build 20 apartments and two bungalows in Brandon and 16 apartments in Ushaw Moor.

The firm is expected to submit a detailed planning application by April.

via Homes plan for Durham villages (From The Northern Echo).

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Roberta Blackman-Woods MP – News – MP Welcomes Affordable Housing Plans

February 29, 2012 Leave a comment

28/02/2012

MP Welcomes Affordable Housing Plans

Picture of Latest News

Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for the City of Durham, today (28/02/12) welcomed Durham County Council’s decision to bring forward plans to develop much needed affordable housing on two sites after many years of campaigning on behalf of residents Oversteads House in Ushaw Moor and Brandon House and their local communities.

Roberta said:

“I am very pleased that after many years of campaigning on behalf of residents of Oversteads House in Ushaw Moor and Brandon House and their local communities that at last the County Council is bringing forward plans to develop the two sites and provide much needed local affordable housing. This will be discussed at the Council Cabinet Meeting on the 29th February 2012.

I will be meeting relevant officers from the County Council soon to discuss the details of the two scheme and how local people can best be involved in this project.

I hope in addition to providing much needed housing it can also provide local employment and apprenticeship opportunities.”

Roberta Blackman-Woods MP – News – MP Welcomes Affordable Housing Plans.

Council could hand over land for free for 40-home scheme in Ushaw Moor n Brandon

February 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Nearly 40 new affordable homes for older people could be built in Durham if councillors agree to hand over land free of charge.

Members of Durham County Council’s Cabinet will be asked to approve proposals to transfer land at Ushaw Moor and Brandon to housing provider Vela Group when they meet on Wednesday, 29 February.

The plans follow the decision in November 2010 to close the sheltered housing schemes that currently occupy the sites.

The Oversteads House and Brandon House complexes were built in the 1970s and would require significant investment in order to be brought up to minimum standards, the council says.

Vela Group has been promised almost £1.3m by the Homes and Communities Agency to build 20 apartments and two bungalows on the site at Brandon and 16 apartments in Ushaw Moor on the condition the council hands over the land without charge.

Cllr Clive Robson, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for housing, said: “Oversteads House and Brandon House struggled for a number of years with high management and maintenance costs and with demand for places low retaining the two schemes would have represented very poor value for money for the council.

“Transferring both schemes to a suitable housing provider will instead mean the sites can be redeveloped to create two modern, fit-for-purpose developments of affordable housing.

“In order for this to happen, we have to award the land at ‘nil’ cost but the need for affordable housing on the site far outweighs the price we could receive through the sale of the land.”

If the land transfer is agreed by Cabinet, Vela Group will be required to submit a detailed planning application by the end of March. The company will also need to outline how it plans to create employment and training opportunities through the developments.

via Council could hand over land for free for 40-home scheme » Housing » 24dash.com.

Vela Group wants to build 38 apartments on site of Oversteads House, in Ushaw Moor

February 21, 2012 Leave a comment

NEARLY 40 affordable homes for older people could be built on two former sheltered housing units.

Vela Group wants to build 38 apartments and bungalows on the sites of Oversteads House, in Ushaw Moor, and Brandon House, in Brandon.

Durham County Council agreed to close the two 1970s-built facilities in November 2010, despite outcry from their remaining 26 elderly residents.

Vela, which has been promised nearly £1.3m from the Homes and Communities Agency, wants to build 20 apartments and two bungalows on the Brandon site and 16 apartments in Ushaw Moor.

But the deal depends on the council handing over the land free of charge.

The authority’s cabinet will be asked to approve the transfer when it meets next Wednesday.

Councillor Clive Robson, the council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “Oversteads House and Brandon House struggled for a number of years with high management and maintenance costs and with demand for places low retaining the two schemes would have represented very poor value for money for the council.

via Nearly 40 affordable homes planned for Durham sheltered housing sites (From The Advertiser Series).

We’ll fight closure plan, residents vow; Pensioners blame council for uncertainty.

October 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Byline: Neil McKay

RESIDENTS who say they have been “left in limbo”for five years while civic bosses ponder the future of their sheltered housing have vowed to oppose closure plans.

Durham Council says it doesn’t have the funds to upgrade Oversteads House, at Ushaw Moor and Brandon House, Brandon, both on the outskirts of Durham City Durham City.

But the remaining residents of Oversteads House last night hit out at the “inhumane treatment” they say they have been subjected to by the county council and by Durham City Council before local government reorganisation.

Problems began five years ago when the city council halted a pounds 250,000 upgrade of the properties after the money ran out.

Audrey Renahan, 73, who has lived at Oversteads House for 10 years, said: “There were 34 residents here, but the council stopped encouraging people to move in. Now there are only 11 of us. They say nobody wants to move in, but that is because the future of Oversteads House is so uncertain.

“It is inhumane treating elderly people like this, causing so much uncertainty. We have had this hanging over us for five years. The council has even offered us money to move out, but we are happy and secure here.”

Another resident, Kevin Flaherty, 59, said: “The uncertainty means people are reluctant to spend money on new carpets or furniture. We want to know where we stand, whether we will be still here this Christmas or next Christmas.

“We are a happy community here and don’t want to be split up.”

Betty Underwood, 76, said: “We are happy here, most of us are from Ushaw Moor and don’t want any upheaval at this time of our lives.”

A report due to be discussed by Durham County Council’s Cabinet next week will say that falling demand for Oversteads House and Brandon House means 44% of flats are empty.

Some have been unoccupied for up to four years. They will also hear that a total investment of pounds 1.5m for the 45 flats would not even bring all up to standard. Cabinet member for housing, Coun Clive Robson, said: “We cannot escape from the fact that the ‘bed-sit” that we offer today is no longer fit for our customers.

“In addition there are location problems with Oversteads House in particular. It was built on a slope with very poor access to local shops and amenities. Nevertheless we recognise that, despite all these issues, this is a sensitive subject for the people living in these buildings.

“As such we have consulted extensively with residents and their families who also acknowledge the problems.” But residents of Oversteads House say they have made their feelings clear and that they don’t want to move.

They hope a private landlord or housing association could take over the complex and the one at Brandon and provide the investment required.