More retirement homes to be built by district council

editorial image

Council leaders in Mansfield have revealed major plans to build new council-owned retirement property for older people in the town, to free up larger homes for young families to move into.

Following Mansfield District Council formally announcing its budget for the next financial year, the authority will now forge ahead with plans to build 80 retirement bungalows in Brownlow Road, Mansfield, and Flint Avenue, in Forest Town.

Coun Derek Evans, portfolio holder for housing regeneration, said the authority is also working to identify derelict garage and disused industrial sites around the town where smaller retirement communities could be built.

And the 1.3 hectare former general hospital site in West Hill Drive could also be set aside for retirement living after demolition is completed in April, Coun Evans said.

The Brownlow Road development will see a total of 64 new council-owned retirement homes built and will be funded from £1,344m from the Housing Communities Agency, £3.44m from Nottinghamshire County Council, and £4m from the district authority, Coun Evans said.

A total of £1.154m set aside for the 16-property Flint Avenue build in the council budget for 2013-14 has also been carried forward into the next financial year.

Coun Evans said: “If someone has lived in a certain area for the past 50 years and they want to downsize, they’re going to want to stay in the local area, and if we can develop some of these derelict garage sites, then they will be able to stay in the area where they’ve lived for so many years.

“By moving to somewhere smaller, this will also free up larger properties within the housing stock for young families to move into.

“This is a very exciting programme after a number of years of planning and some hard work from our officers and we should see development across the whole district, and that is an achievement for which we can be justifiably proud.”

Last week Chad reported that delays to a multi-million pound council-driven re-development of Pleasley Hill are being caused by legal issues.

The new housing complex is due to be built on the recently cleared site, off Chesterfield Road North, and it was initially hoped work would be have started before now.

Over 180 homes have been demolished in recent years to make way for the new private housing, which is to be built by developers Westbury Partnership, a subsidiary of Persimmon Homes.

The rows of old terraced houses had stood for more than 120 years and were initially built for workers at the nearby Pleasley Colliery which shut in 1983.

Mansfield District Council bought the homes in the late 1970s, but in recent years they fell into serious disrepair.

The decision was taken to bulldoze all of the homes in 2004 and begin a housing project from scratch, although it took several more years for all the residents to be re-housed.

The last residents left in 2012 and work on knocking down the crumbling empty homes began.

This time last year just two houses remained on the 3.96 hectare site.

The council sees Pleasley Hill as the ‘gateway to Mansfield’ and the plans are to build 150 new homes, or which a small number may be social housing, Coun Evans said.

The commitment to building more properties was made last week after the Independent Forum-run authority agreed its budget for 2014-15.

Additionally, a new £1.5m fund will also be established to support local businesses - increasing from the initial £850,000 set aside, following a Labour Group-proposed amendment.

It is hoped that the additional cash will help to stimulate local businesses and to support more young people into apprenticeships.

The money has been ring-fenced so it can only be used to support local businesses through grants and loans.

Coun Roger Sutcliffe, council policy holder for resources, said: “Investment in very significant housing developments throughout the district combined with the increased job availability is at an advanced point and the release of funding is now authorised.

“The Mansfield Independent Forum first started this initiative in 2008 with the 43 new council houses built on the Bellamy Road estate and it has always been the desire to continue this initiative. It has taken a long while due to the ensuing economic climate to achieve our goal, but now we are there.

“We are now planning on very significant investment in our young people through apprenticeship schemes. A large economic stimulus fund is being set up to support businesses in need of financial loan support, be it an established business or a new-start project.

“A whole raft of measures are envisaged to help business investors in Mansfield and district achieve their goals.

“The economic green shoots are showing and we are ready to take advantage of the situation for the benefit of our residents .

“We will not go headlong into a spend, spend, spend at all cost approach, but have a well-planned strategic approach which delivers value for money investments for the future and jobs and careers immediately.”

The authority also announced that it will not be increasing its element of council tax for the next 12 months.