Council officials are recommending to a Planning committee meeting next week, that a flat in the Gale Farm Court sheltered accommodation building – which is provided for the use of elderly residents – be converted into a housing office.
Officials claim that it is the only “rent free” option available them in Acomb. Currently they rent a room at the Gateway Centre (and the Foxwood Community Centre).
Acomb lost its housing office about 8 years ago. That was a bad move, which prompted a divide between housing managers and the largest concentration of social tenants in the City.
It had been intended to provide a replacement as part of a “one stop shop” extension to the Acomb library but that project stalled. Land to the rear of the library had been purchased by the Council but has remained derelict for over 10 years.
Officials have promised to revive the Acomb Library plan as part of a £2 million refurbishment project. However senior managers ion the housing department say they can’t wait for that work to be competed
At a time when the largest number of people on the housing waiting list are those requiring one bedroomed accommodation, it seems illogical to take an existing home out of use.
The office could be in use 12 hours a day and it could prove to be a difficult neighbour for the several dozen elderly people who live on the site.
There is also a concern about car parking. Official calm that users will walk to the office but experience elsewhere suggests that this may not be the case.
Cllr Andrew Waller is the local Councillor leading the call for a rethink. He is right to do so.
There is empty property In the Front Street pedestrian area which could be rented until a permanent new location for a Council office can be found. Any increase in footfall in the main shopping area would be welcomed by both traders and residents.
Appropriating scarce residential accommodation is not the right solution for the Councils office problem.