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KYTES DRIVE: Residents continue to fight plans to demolish and rebuild Garston estate

 Published on: 1st September 2023   |   By: Sophia Sheera   |   Category: Uncategorized

Garston residents are continuing to speak out amid plans to knock down and rebuild homes at Kytes Drive.

The estate, a social housing project originally built to enable disabled Second World War veterans to live independent and integrated lives, was acquired by Anchor Housing in 2000.

The not-for-profit housing and care provider is planning to knock down the 44 bungalows on the estate in order to build 151 new properties.

Since Anchor first announced the plans, the community has come together in protest.

Currently, the estate is home to a number of elderly veterans in wheelchairs, as well as many younger people with severe physical disabilities.

Each of the existing bungalows is fully adapted to wheelchair requirements. Now, Anchor has revealed that although 151 new homes will be built, only seven will be bungalows.

As well as these bungalows, Anchor will build a further 37 cottages, 84 apartments and another 23 homes which will be sold to private owners.

Resident Mr Cherryman said: “It’s a lottery as to whether we’re going to get a bungalow again.”
Anchor has promised that lifts will be installed in the new cottages, but resident Mrs Budd believes that people in wheelchairs “cannot live a fully integrated life in a cottage with stairs”.

When Mrs Budd moved to the estate many years ago, she brought her three small children with her.

She said: “How could I get to them quickly if their bedrooms were upstairs and mine the only one on the bottom floor?”

Anchor are planning to demolish the bungalows at 7-14 Kytes Drive first and move the families currently living there into temporary housing.

Mr Cook, 80, wonders whether it will be possible to source temporary accommodation suited to his needs anywhere near his current home.

Some of the elderly residents of bungalows 7-14 are bed-bound, while others are dependent on complex electronic machinery to get around and even breathe.

Mr Cherryman asked: “How will they find appropriate accommodation to store the equipment?”

Across the generations, many Kytes Estate residents fear that Anchor’s redevelopment project isn’t in their best interests.

Louise, who uses a wheelchair, and her mother, Tracy, told Garstonnews: “We’re all not happy.”

They worry that with so many new homes planned for the land, the new cottages will be too small and cramped for Louise to move about with ease.

For Mr and Mrs Cook, the emotional upheaval goes beyond fretting over logistics.

Mrs Cook said: “We’re not being treated like human beings, but like cattle being herded. We can’t see a future. They’ve taken that away from us.”

Mr Sparkes set up a petition against the redevelopment project, which so far has amassed more than 1,320 signatures.

You can see the petition here.

Emma Martin, operations manager at Kytes Drive, said: “As a not-for-profit organisation, we routinely review all our locations and services to ensure we continue to meet the needs of both current and future residents.

“We’re still developing proposals for the site which will be submitted for planning permission and are still in the design phase, continuing to work closely with residents to receive their input. The initial proposals include seven bungalows and 37 cottages, 44 in total which will be designed to M4(3) accessible standards for families with a household member who has a disability and will be suitable for wheelchair users.

“We are also looking to significantly increase the level of affordable housing on the estate through the creation of a building specifically designed for people aged over 55, containing 84 one- and two-bedroom apartments. This building will be alongside 23 family homes for sale which are a mix of three and four bedrooms.

“All of the people currently living at Kytes Drive will have the right to a modern, sustainable and fit-for-purpose home once the new development is complete.”

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