A £14m Extra Care housing development that was put on hold, because of the Government’s proposal to cap benefits, has been resurrected.
Riverside and Rochdale Borough Council had been working on plans for the 88 unit Extra Care scheme for over-55s and 10 Shared Ownership bungalows in Langley, when Ministers announced plans to cap the amount of housing benefit people in supported housing could receive.
The development, which benefits from £6.5m Homes England funding, will provide housing for older people in the area which is currently limited, despite a large population of older people that’s expected to increase by a quarter by 2024.
Housing association Riverside, one of the country’s leading providers of housing, care and support, has been working with the local authority to bring the development on the Langley estate back on the agenda after more than three years on hold.
The site on Keswick Close has now been cleared ready for building work to begin. It will have 88 one and two bedroom apartments for affordable rent, and 10 two bedroom bungalows for shared ownership.
The project was put on hold amid concerns that the cuts would have meant a 25% shortfall in benefits for residents to cover their rent and service charges.
Since the Local Housing Allowance cap was announced in 2015, Riverside was a leading voice in a sector-wide campaign, asking the Government to scrap its plans to cap housing benefit for those living in supported accommodation to local private rented sector levels.
The financial uncertainty created by the proposed cuts affected supported housing providers all over the country and, after overwhelming opposition, the Government changed its plans last year for people living in schemes including Extra Care.
The development has been designed to enable older residents, with varying requirements and care needs, to live independently in a safe environment with the support they need. The scheme will have landscaped gardens and dedicated parking, along with onsite facilities including a restaurant, hairdressing salon, communal lounge, guest room facilities, laundry, treatment room and adapted bathroom. Interior décor will meet Stirling University dementia standards and Government criteria based on 10 key design principles that recognise good lighting, ventilation, space and storage.
Alison Halstead, Riverside’s Head of Retirement Living, said: “We’re delighted that the Extra Care scheme, located off Keswick Close, Langley has commenced, as it will provide a mixture of homes and specialist accommodation so people can continue to live independently.
“With an aging demographic in the area, this development is a facility which will meet the housing requirements of the future as well as supporting economic growth, regeneration and health and well-being.”
Architect Eden Building Design drew up the site plans with the Cruden Group developing it. The project is expected to take two years to complete.
Councillor Iftikhar Ahmed, cabinet member for adult care, added: “We’re thrilled that the Extra Care scheme has started on site, as it will perform a vital role in meeting current and future housing needs. Rochdale is committed to delivering on the principles of age-friendly development, ensuring a wide range of housing choice to promote well-being later in life.
“The new homes are a welcome addition to the Langley estate, and will be the latest project in a successful regeneration partnership between the Council and Riverside that goes back more than 15 years.”
Mrs Christine Thompson lived on the Langley estate for 20 years when she was a child, and moved back five years ago. She is looking to live at the extra care scheme when it’s built.
The 61-year-old grandmother-of-three who works at a doctor’s surgery said: “This is great news for the area, as there isn’t anything like this on the estate for older people who require a little care help. They would have to move out of Langley.
“Currently I live in a first floor flat and it’s starting to be a bit of a struggle getting up the stairs now, so I know in a few years’ time I’ll need somewhere like the extra care scheme that has a lift. It will be a great place for people to feel safe and secure, as well having facilities on site to socialise in.
“I was raised on the estate with my eight siblings and now my daughter and three grandchildren live here along with my sisters and brothers, so it’s important that I stay on the estate.”
Mr Tony Ettenfield grew up on the Langley estate and came back 20 years ago. He now lives on Keswick Close near to where the extra care scheme is being built.
The 71-year-old said: “I’m happy that this is being built, it’s an excellent idea. It’s just unfortunate that it has taken so long to get off the ground because of the Government dragging its feet over the Local Housing Allowance cap proposal. Thankfully the proposal didn’t go ahead otherwise this extra care scheme wouldn’t be getting built.
“This is a much-needed resource in the area, especially for older people who currently feel isolated and are afraid to answer the door. This scheme will be excellent for them as they will feel safe and secure. There will be a hairdressers onsite and residents can pop to the café inside the complex to meet someone rather than sitting in their apartment on their own. This is a good step forward.”