Elderly fear for their future under flat plan

PENSIONERS at a Hampstead care home are wracked with worry after Camden Council unveiled plans to build private flats on top of the building

Katie Davies

PENSIONERS at a Hampstead care home are wracked with worry after Camden Council unveiled plans to build private flats on top of the building.

Residents of Henderson Court on Fitzjohn's Avenue have been given a behind-closed-doors presentation by council chiefs about the plans to build 11 flats above their homes.

Profits made from sales will go towards improvements at the home - possibly including a spa and medical centre.

But residents are worried about the impact building work will have when work starts in 2011.

One woman in her 90s, who didn't want to be named, said: "I am on dialysis and the worry is there will be a lot of disturbance. Some people want to have their flats renovated, but others want to be left alone, I think everyone is concerned about the disruption though."

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A 76-year-old resident said: "The real problem will be who they sell the flats to, we don't want people who will be noisy and disruptive, but how can they stop people selling them on?

"Generally, there are fears there is going to be an upheaval. They have told us it will take place in three years and they are showing us a model later this month."

The meeting and the plans have not been publicised by the council, despite blueprints already being drawn up by Greenhill Jenner Architects.

The Ham&High was allowed to see the minutes from the meeting after requesting details of the scheme.

Officials said the plans had not been made public because they were just at "proposal" stage.

The scheme will also see Henderson Court turned into extra care sheltered accommodation, which means residents have the freedom of an individual flat with on-site staff available 24 hours a day.

Camden Council adult and social care boss Cllr Martin Davies said all the fears of residents would be addressed.

"This goes back to a consultation we had last year about care homes in Camden and the desire to provide more extra care sheltered accommodation.

"People asked us to look at provision for this in the north and south of the borough. We went away and looked at that and came up with this proposal.

"We are looking at what people in Henderson Court will need in the future and the improvements could be self-funded through the sale of the private flats.

"We would have to write something into the leases that they are only allowed to be sold to elderly people who want extra care housing and not to younger people.

"When the work is going on we will need to work with each individual. I don't think the same answer is right for everyone. Some may wish to be moved during the work and some may want to stay. We will work around what is best for them."