No takers for Care Home contract at Lowfields

Care home site

According to a notice published earlier today, the York Council has received
no suitable tenders for the provision of a care home at its Lowfields site.

The Council has already invested heavily in providing infrastructure,
including roads, at the site. They promised a 30-month building timetable in  response to concerns expressed by residents in 2016 who feared that the nuisance caused by building works could drag on for a decade.

The failure to find a development partner for the care home, together with
delays on the communal housing section, means that there is no end in sight for the development work.

The delay  notice says, ” This item has been withdrawn because, following a tender process, officers have been unable to appoint a developer. Officers need to consult the market and consider the options before the Executive can make a decision”.

According to the Councils Elderly Care programme, which was last discussed in 2018, work on building the care home was due to start next month. Officials at that they said that they were confident on getting a good deal for the site following “soft market” testing. 

Now a delay on the start of building work on the home of over 12 months  seems inevitable.

There have been similar delays at Oakhaven on York Road where work is now over 3 years behind schedule.

Delays also dog the Haxby Hall redevelopment site on the other side of the
City.

Despite the delays in providing new care homes, existing facilities have
been closed. Some like Willow House next to the Bar walls remain empty.

Ironically, the original plan to provide a, mainly private sector funded,
care village on the site of the Lowfield’s school had been developed in 2010 to the point where work was scheduled to start. The scheme was shelved by the incoming Labour Council and 9 years later there is little to show but some “roads to nowhere” and large spoil heaps.

The site is now has little security. It is attracting children who want to play
on the dangerous spoil heaps.

The football pitches have long gone so alternative children’s play facilities
are non existent.

Even the Kingsway multi user games area has been turned into a building
compound for another development..

Lowfields plans in 2016

Willow House Elderly Persons Home still empty

The former Willow House Elderly Persons Home on Long Close Lane is still empty.
Willow House today

It is nearly 3 years since residents were moved out of the home and the Council put the site on the open market.

In a £3 million deal, the site was set to be sold for a 126 bed student accommodation development.

However there was a controversy regarding public access to land which had been used for occasional leisure purposes. Labour blocked the plans in November 2017.

A year earlier it had been decided to close the home.

Willow House sales particulars

Lack of progress in developing what is a prime site next to the City walls was criticised last October when there was no progress to be seen behind the security railings.

No planning application has been submitted for the redevelopment of the site which is registered with estate agents Sanderson Weatherall. The agents say that their clients would prefer an “unconditional offer”.

The area being offered for sale includes the disputed “informal leisure” land

The building and surrounding land is now becoming something of an eyesore.

This is unfortunate as it is visible fro the City walls.

Only a few hundred metres away, on the other side of the inner ring road, the vacant site next to the Barbican has become an even bigger eyesore.

Area of land available for sale

Prime York city centre redevelopment site still unused

The former Willow House elderly persons home on Long Close Lane, next to the Bar Walls, is still empty. The buildings, which are in reasonable condition, were abandoned by the Council in early 2017.

The site was slated for use as student flats following a successful planning application in October last year.

The site was then  subject to a wrangle about the use of, and continued access to, adjacent green space.

The security fencing makes a poor backdrop for the many visitors who walk along the adjacent walls.

Further down Long Moor Lane, highway officials have allowed  bushes  to completely block the public footpath; adding to the general impression of neglect in the area.

Willow House stands abandoned with no sign of redevelopment work starting.

Hedges completely block public footpath

£100 to park your car. Expensive neighbourhood

“Stay away” Tory leads to defeat on Willow House development

Willow House

The local Council Tory Leadership suffered a defeat this evening when their plan ot sell off land at Willow House was referred back for further consideration.

It is understood that one Conservative councillor absented himself from the meeting without appointing a substitute. (He was apparently elsewhere in West Offices when the meeting was taking place)

The result was that a vote on a “call in” was tied and the Labour chair used his casting vote to stall the development.

There are likely to be repercussions for the Council as the sale of the former elderly persons home site for development was needed to fund new elderly care homes.

The main concern apparently centred around an area of open space next to the home which would have been developed for the first time. Locals say that it is used for informal recreational activity.

There are several other controversial plans in the pipeline which would see similar open spaces developed. In the Acomb ward the development of the old Manor school playing field has been criticised while there is also a major campaign to save threatened open space at Lowfields.

The called in decision will now be referred back to the Executive who will have to decide whether to re-advertise the site for sale and, if so,  with what conditions. Further delays to the care programme seem inevitable.

The disagreement within the Tories is the latest in signs of unrest with Council Leader David Carr heavily criticised  since unilaterally sacking two executive members and later resisting publication of a report into contractor appointments.

Other projects such as the, Tory backed, shipping container village on Piccadilly and arrangements to sign the final Community Stadium contract are also mired in controversy.

Willow House elderly persons home site goes for student lets

The York Council is set to pocket nearly £3 million when it sells the site for a new 126 bed student accommodation.

Most of the bids for the site were for student housing although one developer wanted to build a care home on the site which is next to Walmgate and has views of the city walls.

The bids are revealed in a report to a Council Executive meeting

Willow House had 34 beds for elderly people and closed at the beginning of the year.

The Council says it is expecting student numbers in the city to increase by over 4000 during the next 10 years.

York Council set to close Willow House elderly persons home

Willow HouseMembers of City of York Council’s Executive will consider plans for the next phase of the Older People’s Accommodation Programme on Thursday 24 November, when they receive the results of the consultation at Willow House older persons home and decide if the home should close.

Between Monday 26 September and Friday 4 November residents, relatives, carers and staff at Willow House were invited to take part in a six week consultation on the option to close the home in Spring 2017, as part of plans to modernise accommodation for older people in the city.

If the proposals go ahead, Executive will also be asked to approve that the Willow House site be put up for sale to generate a capital receipt to support the wider Older People’s Accommodation Programme.

The programme seeks to address the needs of York’s fast-growing older population, by providing modern facilities which deliver high quality care and support an improved quality of life. It also aims to make the best use of the city’s existing Extra Care housing, making it more accessible for people with higher care needs by increasing the support available at each location and by replacing the council’s out-dated Older People’s provision, with more modern accommodation.

The consultation on proposals to close Willow House engaged residents, relatives and staff. A number of issues, concerns and queries were raised during the consultation, which have been considered and factored into the Older People’s Accommodation Programme. Everyone affected by the consultation was offered the opportunity to talk on a one-to-one basis about the proposals.

Residents were also able to discuss the options open to them, based on their individual needs, including housing extra care housing or moving to an alternative care home.

The Moving Homes Safely Protocol has also been shared with residents. The protocol was used to support residents and their families through the closure of Oakhaven and Grove House and seeks to minimise any stress for individuals by focusing on the needs of each resident. If Executive approve plans to close Willow House it is advised the protocol is used again so that residents’ moves are carefully planned and managed.

Martin Farran, Director of Adult Social Care, City of York Council, said: “We recognise that this consultation process can be an unsettling and upsetting. Throughout this process we have been working closely with residents, staff and their families, to make sure they have the support and advice they need.

“The focus of the Older People’s Accommodation Programme remains clear: to support independent living at home and equip York with the accommodation and care that it needs for the future. Our residents are of paramount importance and the actions we take now will ensure that they – and future generations – will have the best possible quality of life and ensure that we can meet the needs of York’s ageing population.

“Whatever decision is taken by the Executive, we will continue to support residents, relatives and staff throughout the process.”

Executive will take place on Thursday 24 November at West Offices from 5.30pm and is open to members of the public or is available to watch live online from: www.york.gov.uk/webcasts

To find out more about the report, or to attend, click

Residents and staff at Willow House to be consulted on closure plans

“High value” elderly persons home site to be sold

Willow HouseResidents, their relatives and staff at one of City of York Council’s Older People’s Homes – Willow House – are being consulted on the option to close the home in early 2017, as part of plans to modernise accommodation for older people in the city.

The Council says that, “the plans seek to address the needs of York’s fast-growing older population, by providing modern facilities which allow high quality care and quality of life. It also aims to make the best use of the city’s existing Extra Care housing, making it more accessible for people with higher care needs by increasing the support available at each venue and by replacing the council’s five out-dated Older People’s Homes, with more modern accommodation”.

Two city centre homes (Oliver House & Grove House) have already been sold by the Council. Willow House, located within a stones throw of the City Walls is likely to command a substantial price when marketed.

There will, however, be concerns that specialist properties specifically designed for older people – and with good access to a full range of amenities – are being lost.

In Acomb, the Council faces a major backlash over its plans to build on the Lowfields school sports fields. Residents had expected that site to be allocated for older people as it is also located very close to the amenities which exist on Front Street

A Council media release goes on to say,

“Each of the council’s Older People’s Homes was assessed against a number of criteria to determine which homes should be consulted on for closure first. Two Older People’s Homes – Grove House and Oakhaven – closed earlier this year as part of the programme and this week, Executive is being asked to approve plans for the sale of Grove House to generate additional capital to support the programme.

The criteria covered:

  • Whether there were any serious physical problems with the building which could impact on the quality of care provided to residents
  • Whether the site had potential alternative uses which will support the wider Older People’s Accommodation Programme
  • Whether there were any residents living at the home who had already been moved from another CYC older person’s home which had been closed
  • The size of the home, with smaller homes struggling to provide a cost-efficient service to residents.

None of the Older People’s Homes were found to have serious physical problems with the buildings, so the decision was based on the other three criteria. Willow House was chosen as the next home to be consulted on re closure because:

  • Willow House is one of the smaller homes with 23 permanent residents
  • Only a very small number of residents have moved home previously as part of the programme
  • Should Willow House close, the location of the site means that it would be likely to generate a significant capital receipt if sold, helping to fund the wider Older People’s Accommodation Programme and so benefit more older people in the city.

Michael Melvin, Assistant Director, Adult Social Care, City of York Council, said: “We recognise that this consultation process can be an unsettling and upsetting one and we will be working closely with the residents, staff and their families, to make sure they have the support and advice they need. Residents and staff at Willow House are rightly proud of their home, however, it is vital that we keep the aims of the wider Older People’s Accommodation Programme in sight.

“The programme looks to ensure that we are able to help older people to remain independent in their own home as long as possible, providing them with a wide choice of accommodation to meet their needs. Our residents are of paramount importance and the actions we take now will ensure that they – and future generations – will have the best possible quality of life and ensure that we can meet the needs of York’s ageing population. This consultation is another step closer to achieving the goal of modernising accommodation for older people in York.”

Residents, their relatives and staff have already been informed of the proposals and will be consulted on their views and any preferences they have about where they would like to move to should the home be closed, over the next six weeks.

The results of the consultations will be presented to the Executive on Thursday 24 November.  Willow House also hosts day drop-in services for people with leaning disabilities in a self contained space. These service users will be consulted separately on proposed changes at Willow House”.

All existing York Council Elderly Persons Homes set to close before 2019

£2 million price tag put on Lowfields site – Future of playing fields unclear.

Labours plans to abandon the super care home project mean that 7 existing elderly persons homes will close:

  • Grove House,
  • Haxby Hall,
  • Morrell House,
  • Oakhaven,
  • Windsor House,
  • Willow House and
  • Woolnough House.

All will close by March 2019.  The first will close its doors next year.

The Council expects many of the occupants to move into homes provided by the “independent sector”

Houses will be built on most of the vacated sites.

It is proposed that the Lowfields site be used for the provision of “over 100 new homes” including “downsizing” homes to rent and buy for older people as well as “starter homes to rent and buy so that younger families can get on to the housing ladder”.  

The Council says that a capital receipt of “at least £2m” for the land will also be realised, confirming that any redevelopment will be by the private sector.

Whether the playing fields are included in this purchase price is unclear

Oakhaven

Oakhaven

It is proposed that the “facilities for older people originally envisaged as part of the Community Village on the Lowfields site be, instead, provided at a newly built Extra Care and Health Hub which is expected to replace the Oakhaven OPH on “Front Street” (sic)”.

The Council says it

will be on making best use of the existing stock of Extra Care Housing in the city.  There are five dedicated sheltered housing with ‘extra care’ services in York containing 205 units of accommodation.

Four of these are Council managed schemes – Marjorie Waite Court, Gale Farm Court, Barstow House and Glen Lodge, whilst the fifth (Auden House) is managed by York Housing Association. All homes in these schemes are to rent”.

The Council claims that many of those occupying places in these homes don’t need “extra care” facilities and hints that they may be moved out to make way for those judged to have higher needs!

They say, “We will work with exiting residents to keep disruption to a minimum

The report concludes,

York is also under-supplied with Extra Care Housing given the city’s demographics and the anticipated growth in the numbers of over 75s expected over the next decade.

Analysis suggests that there will be need for 490 units of Extra Care accommodation by 2020, rising to 645 in 2030, based upon nation benchmarks. There is a need for both Extra Care to rent and Extra Care to buy; currently just one third of the provision in York is to buy despite 81% of York’s older residents owning their own home.

The independent sector is beginning to address this need. For example, McCarthy & Stone are currently building 28 new sheltered homes to buy at Smithson Court on Top Lane in Copmanthorpe. Elsewhere in Yorkshire they are beginning to build and provide their Extra Care offer – called Assisted Living – and we would expect that they will continue to provide new accommodation as the market demands”.

With the overcrowding in York NHS hospitals reaching crisis point over the last few months, partly as a result of a lack of availability of the right kind of care places for the elderly in the City, the prospect of another 4 years elapsing before the issues are resolved is deeply worrying.