Saturday, 5 May 2018

Athol House

I have been contacted by a number of constituents with understandable concerns about the announcement by Karbon Homes that it is to demolish Athol House in Ponteland as part of a major redevelopment scheme which will result in a new 32 unit, mixed tenure development of homes for over 55s. 

Obviously, news of this kind is very unsettling and unwelcome to the elderly people that call Athol House home, but I have been assured by Karbon that each and every resident will get all the assistance they need to find a new home where they feel comfortable and safe.  Karbon will meet with every resident individually to determine their needs and to explain all the options available, and families and carers will be included in this process if the residents would like them to be.  Jon McDonald, Support Housing Older Persons Manager at Karbon Homes, has made it very clear that they will give residents all the time that they need to find suitable alternative housing, and they will cover all reasonable costs associated with moving and pay a statutory Home Loss Payment to the residents.  Karbon are also liaising closely with Ponteland Town Council and local County Councillor, Eileen Armstrong, to ensure that the best interests of the residents are looked after.

The decision to demolish Athol House has been made because Karbon believe the current accommodation does not meet modern standards or the desire of older people to live in modern one or two bedroomed apartments or bungalows as opposed to bedsits.  Once the new building is complete, residents will be able to apply for one of the new homes, assuming they meet the criteria for the building.

Back in 2013 I was asked to open Trinity Court in Corbridge - a £2.1m replacement for a popular but outdated complex for the elderly that was demolished in 2010.  Trinity Court was designed to keep residents’ living costs down, within easy walking distance of shops and leisure facilities, and I was hugely impressed with the quality of the accommodation on offer.  Experience gained from this closure and relocation will serve Karbon well as they work with the residents at Athol House to find new homes where they are happy and safe.  

I take the concerns that have been raised with me very seriously, and can understand how upsetting the need to move homes is for the residents - I will continue to do everything that I can to ensure that everyone affected is supported and helped to find a home that suits their individual needs and requirements.