Vicar was not ‘hoodwinked’ by deal to sell £12m care home for £1

Fr John Wainwright outside Church Walk House. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Fr John Wainwright outside Church Walk House. Picture: Polly Hancock. - Credit: Archant

A Childs Hill vicar has hit back at claims he was “hoodwinked” into giving a historic care home to a charity – which is now set to sell it to developers for £12million – insisting the sale was “inevitable”.

Fr John Wainwright, vicar at All Saints’ Church, gave Church Walk House care home, in Church Walk, to Central and Cecil Housing Trust (CCHT) for the nominal fee of £1 in 2010.

The vicar, former chairman of Hendon Old People’s Housing Trust (HOPHT) which owned the care home, insists the home would have been forced to close without the intervention of CCHT due to spiralling costs and substandard facilities.

Last month, residents living near the home were left outraged by the news that CCHT is now planning to sell Church Walk House to developers looking to build luxury townhouses or a block of apartments.

Harriet Green, of Prospect Road, said the decision from CCHT to sell the home for cash was “appalling” and believed Fr Wainwright was “hoodwinked” by the deal.

But Fr Wainwright told the Ham&High: “We weren’t hoodwinked at all, we knew exactly what we were doing and what the outcomes were going to be.

“I think it’s very sad but I don’t think a care home is sustainable on the site. It’s the onward march of time and the way the care industry has changed.

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“The site has got to change – it was nasty, it was like an old workhouse. This was inevitable.”

Fr Wainwright, whose vicarage adjoins the care home, said there had been a misunderstanding among nearby residents who believed Church Walk House had been owned by All Saints’ Church – explaining HOPHT was a charitable company that had run the home since it was established in the 1950s.

He became chairman of HOPHT, which had been previously run by freemasons, in the late 1990s and witnessed a gradual decline in demand for places at Church Walk House.

According to Fr Wainwright, the care home was on the verge of financial collapse when CCHT agreed to take it over.

As part of the deal, CCHT agreed to run Church Walk House as a care home for at least two years and Fr Wainwright agreed that after the two years, the home could be sold providing the funds were used for care purposes.

CCHT, which closed Church Walk House in March 2013, plans to use the funds from the care home’s sale to fund “specialist older people’s housing in other parts of London”, which satisfied Fr Wainwright.

He added: “It is cheaper for local authorities to look after people in their homes. You can’t run a care home on the site if it’s not sustainable. I don’t think anyone’s running care homes at a profit.”