MP Dean Russell has launched a petition to reintroduce a covenant protecting the interests of the elderly and disabled on Kytes Drive, Garston.
On October 23, the MP addressed the House of Commons, raising the plight of veterans unhappy about the proposed redevelopment of Kytes to national attention. He asked Commons to urge the the government in encouraging Anchor Hanover – the non-profit that owns Kytes – to sign a legally binding document that would protect the interests of residents.
In particular, Russell stated that this covenant should ensure that Kytes always includes “purpose-built and well-maintained accommodation to house people over the age of 55, those with disabilities, veterans and their families”.
For many residents of the Kytes estate who are devastated to hear that Anchor Hanover is planning to redevelop the site, Russell’s petition is an important step in the right direction. Last month, residents were horrified to learn that Anchor Hanover wants to knock down the 44 bungalows currently hosted on the estate and rebuild only 14, moving the majority of wheel-bound residents into staired cottages.
Russell’s petition aims to ensure that the interests of veterans and the elderly are protected by law, as it was when the estate was previously owned by the Red Cross.
However, some residents believe that the reintroduction of a covenant may not sufficiently protect the elderly and disabled community living at Kytes. One resident, Bob Sparkes, said that although residents have expressed time and time again that those in wheelchairs need to be housed in bungalows, not cottages with lifts, neither Anchor Hanover nor the MP’s petition adequately responds to this critical necessity.
In addition, Anchor Hanover’s plans to convert the Manor House at the centre of the estate into flats and sell them privately undermines claims that the welfare of disabled residents is a priority.
Nick Hodgskin, senior development manager for Anchor, said: “Our proposals will double the amount of affordable housing on the estate.
“We are actively seeking to secure a sensitive local authority lettings agreement that prioritises future lettings on a redeveloped Kytes estate for disabled and veteran housing needs via a nominations agreement. This would be linked to any planning approval and therefore ensure increased provision of specialist housing.
“We believe this will be a better way of ensuring the continued provision for specialist needs than via a restrictive covenant.
“We recognise that the work will cause upheaval for the residents living there now and will do everything we can to minimise the disruption. Crucially, as well as offering new homes to existing residents, the proposals mean much needed-new homes for many others, including those with disabilities and veterans.
“Homes proposed in the plans will be designed to M4(3) accessibility standards under current building regulations and will therefore be suitable for people with disabilities including wheelchair users.”
To view the online petition started by MP Russell to introduce a covenant to Kytes, visit bit.ly/KytesDrivePetition