RESIDENTS of Ivy House and the Old Vicarage in Wellington have received a pre-Christmas boost with news that the Abbeyfield Society may have found another organisation interested in taking over the properties - with the tenants remaining in their homes.
The news has come in a letter received from Abbeyfield which updated residents on the latest development.
The move follows months of correspondence with Abbeyfield between the town council and a local housing association, which together had sought to safeguard the residents’ properties.
One of the local councillors in a council working party set up to try to protect the residents, Cllr Andrew Govier said: “This is excellent news.
“We have worked closely with the residents to try to convince Abbeyfield the properties had a viable future.
“The news of the proposed closure came as a real shock to the residents and we were determined to challenge Abbeyfield’s plans.
“Although no definite decision has been made, the information contained in the letter gives us real hope that the properties can be saved.”
Abbeyfield stunned residents in May by announcing it had decided to close the properties as they were no longer fit for purpose and the repairs required would cost too much to carry out.
Councillors have since held a number of meetings with residents from both houses where they provided updates on the ongoing discussions and housing advice.
Cllr Govier said: “I am really pleased the whole council and local community have given their backing to the campaign to keep the properties open.
“I am very grateful to staff from the housing association who have provided the council with free housing advice.
“It was clear from the initial letter there were flaws in Abbeyfield’s arguments and we have robustly challenged them on their figures and rationale for closure.
“The residents have been very helpful and have worked with us to ensure that we had as much information as necessary to make our case.”
Work has started now between Abbeyfield and the unknown housing provider to ensure due diligence checks can take place and a surveyor has visited the properties.
Abbeyfield has promised to let the residents know by the end of January of the final outcome.
Cllr Govier said: “I really hope and pray that this proposal is successful.
“The residents have had this hanging over them for six months and it would be great if everything could be concluded as soon as possible.”