Controversial Housing Plan in Ely Rears Its Head Again

PUBLISHED: 09:31 06 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:35 04 May 2010

A CONTROVERSIAL redevelopment of Ely homes has reared its head again as not-for-profit housing association Sanctuary Hereward aims to bring its accommodation up-to-date. Residents on Walsingham Way thought they had seen the back of plans to demolish thei

A CONTROVERSIAL redevelopment of Ely homes has reared its head again as not-for-profit housing association Sanctuary Hereward aims to bring its accommodation up-to-date.

Residents on Walsingham Way thought they had seen the back of plans to demolish their 11 spacious Homes Fit for Heroes, which were built for soldiers returning from the Second World War, as the council threw out a 33-home planning application in March.

Sanctuary Hereward, however, had other ideas and has re-applied for permission to create 27 homes on the site - a selection of six two-bed houses; seven three-bed houses; two one-bedroom flats and 12 two-bedroom flats

The decision, if it gets past the district council's planning committee in November, would only involve tenants, not leaseholders, but if those in rented accommodation want to set up home in the new flats, they would either have to move away or live on a noisy building site while their old homes were demolished. A woman in her 80s, who did not want to be named, said she couldn't understand why she had to move. "I've been here for 50 years and I can't get out much because of my arthritis," she told the Ely Standard. "I can't even write a letter to the council - what good would it do anyway? They are lovely houses and a lot of us who live here are elderly - why should they pull them down? We don't want to live on a building site."

Alan Lewin, director of Santuary Hereward, said: "What we have said to our tenants is that they would be given the option of moving into the new accommodation on Walsingham Way, if they want to, once homes have been built,"

"If the development goes ahead, we would build the new homes, then demolish the existing houses, so tenants would not need to move from the road if they did not choose to."

The company estimates it would cost in excess of £1million to insulate and re-equip the Walsingham Way houses for the 21st Century.

Government regulations require affordable housing to be of a certain standard of energy efficiency, and to use other tenants' money - around £17,000 per home - to provide for a handful of their current tenants seemed unfair, Mr Lewin told the Ely Standard.

"We need to maintain homes to what the government calls the Decent Homes Standard," he said.

This is the third time Sanctuary Hereward have made an attempt to demolish homes on Walsingham Way. In 2005, plans to demolish the majority of homes on the road to build 170 flats was again thrown out by councillors.

Plans for the Barns area have also caused some residents concern. Their popular Community Rooms on High Barns are to be expanded, but new homes built in place of a row of dilapidated garages. The Barns Community Voice recently held a fundraising day to help equip the future community room with better facilities.

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