Outrage as care home bought for £1 set to be sold for £12million

Residents opposed to the sale outside Church Walk House. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Residents opposed to the sale outside Church Walk House. Picture: Nigel Sutton. - Credit: Nigel Sutton

A housing trust which provides homes for vulnerable residents is planning to sell a historic care home it bought for £1 to developers for up to £12million.

The move has shocked nearby residents in Childs Hill who believed the owners would honour a pledge to run the building as a care home after it was sold to them by All Saints Church for the nominal fee in 2010.

Central and Cecil Housing Trust (CCHT), whose sole patron is actress Dame Judi Dench, is marketing Church Walk House care home, in Church Walk, Childs Hill, as a unique site for developers looking to build luxury townhouses and apartments.

The care home was bought by the housing trust for a nominal sum of £1 from Hendon Old People’s Housing Trust (HOPHT), a charity set up by the adjacent All Saints Church, which is understood to have run a care home on the site since the 1950s until the costs became too high.

As part of the deal, CCHT took control of Church Walk House on the agreement it would use the property for “providing housing for people of limited means”.

But having run the care home for two years, CCHT closed Church Walk House in March 2013 and is now marketing the site as an “opportunity” for 13 three-storey townhouses or a block of 53 apartments.

Resident Louise Lerman, of Lyndale Avenue, said: “To sell the land to a developer to build houses or flats is against the whole purpose and reason for them being given this site. It is just appalling.”

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Harriet Green, of Prospect Road, said: “It’s been a care home for generations and was originally set up to help the elderly poor of Childs Hill – and now it’s going to be sold for all this cash.

“The trust [HOPHT] couldn’t afford to keep it anymore. I think they’ve been hoodwinked.

“This wasn’t what they wanted and there is a lot of hurt. They wanted it kept as a care home with people putting money into it and looking after the elderly people who lived there.”

Last year, a 100-strong group of residents fought a successful battle against CCHT plans to demolish Church Walk House and replace it with a larger four-storey home offering 53 one and two bedroom apartments.

CCHT eventually withdrew its planning application to Barnet Council in the face of opposition.

The company is now marketing the site as a “residential development opportunity”, insisting Barnet Council has an “oversupply of care homes, therefore it is not a protected use”.

But Childs Hill councillor Jack Cohen insisted this was “utter nonsense”.

“The council backed the new care home plans last year because they were saying there is a real need for care homes,” he said.

“I’m sure residents will share my outrage that they are selling it to make a fast profit when the charity sold it to Central and Cecil to redevelop the care home into a modern facility.”

A CCHT spokesman said: “We will be able to use the funds from the sale of the Church Walk House site to fund our ambitions for elegant, affordable and vibrant specialist older people’s housing in other parts of London.

“Our development plans meet both our own objectives and those set out by HOPHT at the time of both of our agreements to transfer.”