There is confusion over the future of the Streatfeild House site in Uckfield after a Wealden Council committee was told options are being considered.
Uckfield councillors believed a firm decision had been made to demolish the sheltered accommodation and provide 55 new homes on the site. Residents who moved out were expecting to be able to move back again after the rebuild.
But a report to a meeting of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee last month said viability assessments had been completed for a series of build options for the future of Streatfeild House.
Not fit for purpose
Housing and benefits portfolio holder Cllr Roy Cade told the committee that Streatfeild House needed to be emptied because the premises “were not fit for purpose”.
He added: “Regulations and expectations of people in retirement living has changed over the years. It was necessary to end the life of Streatfeild House as it was.
“That leaves us with quite a few options whether to return to a retirement place or whether it would be more viable to demolish and start again.
“There are options open to us that will be discussed in the near future. Obviously we don’t want the building left empty for too long.”
Cllr Helen Firth told housing and benefits portfolio holder Cllr Roy Cade: “You have made me feel like a real liar.
“I assured elderly people when they moved out that they would be able to go back. So many loved living there and didn’t want to move. Now you are telling me it might not be used for that purpose. I find that very difficult to take in.”
Cllr Claire Dowling backed Cllr Firth. She told Cllr Cade that a cabinet report showed it was intended to decant Streatfeild House for a temporary period while the building was demolished and rebuilt.
Cllr Dowling said: “I am very surprised that suddenly you are not doing what the original report was saying. I was not aware there was a change.
“The original report was clear, residents would be decanted out, the same as at Grants Hill House, and people could come back if, and when, they choose to.
Never any hint
“There was never any hint at the time the report came out that you would actually be reducing the number of places within Uckfield.”
Cllr Cade said he had not said they would not be demolishing and rebuilding Streatfeild House, just that options were open. It could well be decided there would be a new building or it could be redeveloped for retirement living.
Cllr Dowling again stressed there had been no other option than redeveloping. “It sounds like something has happened and that may not now proceed.”
Cllr Cade said he would check that and come back to the committee.
See previous Uckfield News stories about Streatfeild House and retirement accommodation in Uckfield: