Harrow Churches Housing Association (HCHA) distinguished guest speaker Lord Richard Best Paxfold sheltered scheme for older people in to celebrate the first anniversary of the scheme’s redevelopment. Chris Holley, CEO of HCHA, welcomed guests including tenants, Board members, partners at Harrow Council, local churches and a host of stakeholders working across the social housing sector.
Lord Best who is a member of the House of Lords, addressed the audience on his working group’s vision and positive ideas for housing our ageing population. He spoke about the huge problems facing a growing older population as many people will in due course need care and attention which can be very expensive and poses a challenge to the NHS and local authorities. Lord Best talked of the need to provide good quality housing for older people to incentivise them to move out of their large, unmanageable
or under occupied homes. Lord Best said, ‘We need to shuffle the pack and get younger people into the larger homes and older people into lovely, purpose built accommodation without stairs or other hazards – homes that are suitable and desirable. This solution will mean less people needing residential care and a reduction in expensive ‘bed blocking’ in our hospitals.’
He went on to say, ‘I want big house builders to understand they need to build homes for older people, they aren’t really building enough retirement homes, they are too cautious and set in their ways, but this represents a huge market. Government is not thinking about retiring people in the chain. We need to make it as easy as possible for older people to move.’
Amongst his group’s suggestions outlined in a paper as HAPPI 3, is the recommended removal of stamp duty to encourage movement along the housing chain. He cautioned, ‘If we don’t do this, older people will just stay where they are. Older
people often leave it too late, they need the product out there.’
Barry Ingate, Chairman of HCHA, said, ‘It has been a thrilling journey to see Paxfold’s story unfold, I am grateful to our architects and staff to get it in to this state. We aim to deliver excellent facilities for our tenants to Code Level 4, currently 20% of our stock
achieves this. We are always seeking ways to improve what we have and up to a very high standard.’
Lord Best was highly impressed by the scheme and said, ‘It is great to see the remarkable transformation of old and new buildings, and there’s a lot to be said for being a smaller housing association, having 450 properties, with a very personalised understanding of the needs of those you serve. You are doing a really good job and you can see the quality shining through.’
Guests were given a tour of Paxfold’s communal areas and gardens by the designers TM Architects and HCHA staff, as well as an opportunity to visit the apartments of two residents, June Bridgman and Bhanu Tankaria. Bhanu said, ‘I really like this location and the view from my balcony onto the woodland is so beautiful with lots of fresh air!’.