Demolition begins at Hamonte ahead of Letchworth over-55s housing scheme
PUBLISHED: 09:59 18 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:06 18 October 2017
Demolition of a Letchworth sheltered housing scheme began yesterday as part of a £3 million redevelopment plan.
Howard Cottage Housing Association’s replacement of the two-storey 1970s apartment block at Hamonte, on the Jackmans estate, will provide 71 new and affordable two-bedroom homes for the over-55s.
Mary Murphy, 82, was one of the first residents to move into the Hamonte sheltered scheme in 1993.
She said: “It’s very emotional to see my old ground-floor flat being demolished – we had some really happy years at Hamonte.
“I’m very keen to move into the new accommodation when the building work has been completed.”
The new building will be named John Coxall Court, in memory of the long-serving former Howard Cottage chairman who died last year.
The housing association says tenants have been co-operative and pleased with the plans to demolish the flats in exchange for a modern upgrade, with near-unanimous support for the scheme.
Chief executive John Welch said: “I’m extremely grateful to the former residents of Hamonte for being so co-operative.
“They accepted the upheaval and agreed to move from their home during the construction period, for the benefit of themselves and future generations.
“As I see it, this is the start of something really positive for Letchworth. The new John Coxall Court development will be good news for the town, for the next 70 years or so.”
The plan for this renovation was approved unanimously by North Herts District Council’s planning control committee in May.
Arguing for approval, Mr Welch told the committee that the scheme addressed “a huge number of needs for all demographics”.
He said: “The current scheme was constructed in the early 1970s. It has a poor layout, lack of level access and other problems.
“It’s a massive thing for our elderly residents, being asked to move in some cases twice, and we were delighted to learn that support for the scheme was almost unanimous – a mark of how needed this work is.”
He added that in the midst of the current housing crisis, with supply not meeting demand, the rebuild might encourage older people to downsize and free up homes for younger families.