Residents have vowed to hold Milton Keynes Council to account over the possible demolition of a sheltered housing scheme with very elderly residents in Netherfield.
Because of subsidence, Buckland Lodge, in Buckland Drive, has been identified for ‘decommissioning’ by the council and the Netherfield Residents Association (NRA) is concerned that the 17 remaining elderly and vulnerable residents will be forced to move out against their will.
Eamonn Bobey, who chairs the NRA, put Cllr Nigel Long, the council’s cabinet member for housing and regeneration, on the spot during a meeting on Tuesday (March 5).
Concerned that the issue is being pushed through without proper talks, Mr Bobey quizzed him on why a meeting was held with residents at the property on February 27 despite the official go-ahead not being given.
Cllr Long said the meeting had been informal and held after a coffee morning to set out the situation and explain about the subsidence that was identified in 2004.
“We were talking about problems with subsistence and discussed a range of options. We have not made any decision to decommission Buckland Lodge.” He said the formal consultation will start later this year. He added he has a ‘long track record of effective consultation.’
In council papers from January 8 there is an item for beginning “consultation with all tenants at Buckland Lodge sheltered scheme in 2019 with a view to decommissioning the scheme and using the site for alternative housing provision.”
Mr Bobey and his NRA colleagues fear that the decision has already been made. After the meeting he vowed to keep asking questions, and hold the council to account.
“We will be asking for the full reports on the subsidence,” said Mr Bobey after the meeting.
“We think the subsidence is contained within one corner of the building and it can be dealt with but we will agree with whatever the residents want to do there.
There are people in their 80s and 90s and we are concerned about what might happen if they are forced to move out.”
He added that the population of Netherfield and Woughton was ageing and if the council demolishes Buckland Lodge there will be no sheltered accommodation in the area.
“Buckland Lodge is a hub for the community,” he said.