Homes needed to cater for elderly and families

Britons Croft in Steyning.
Britons Croft in Steyning.

MORE accommodation for families and older people is needed in Steyning, so that those who cannot afford to buy homes, or need support, can continue to live in the town. These are key findings of a Housing Needs Survey report from Action in Rural Sussex.

The report has been welcomed by Steyning Parish Council which has promptly taken on board confirmation of the unmet need from local people to stay in Steyning.

Parish council chairman, David Barling, said: “The parish council hopes to use this very valuable tool to persuade Saxon Weald Housing Association to retain the Britons Croft site in Charlton Street in public ownership, and to provide accommodation in one form or another for local people.”

He added that the parish council would be entering into discussions with Saxon Weald at the earliest opportunity about the site.

Saxon Weald have said that Britons Croft, a housing scheme for older people who need care and support with daily living, would have to close because its outdated facilities no longer meet the standards needed for residents, with many areas not accessible to wheelchairs.

People at Britons Croft had been living in bed sits and, while they had a separate washbasin and toilet, they had to share bathrooms. Many areas are not wheelchair accessible. Bringing it up to modern standards was considered to be too expensive and impractical, though no decision has yet been made about the future of the site.

Mr Barling said the council was delighted with the level of response from Steyning residents, with a third replying to the survey, showing a significant need for social housing in the town. It had already identified 68 households in need of affordable housing.

Action in Rural Sussex had been asked by the parish council to carry out an Older Person’s Housing Needs Survey last autumn. The aim was to determine the existing and future housing needs of older residents in Steyning, particularly those on low or modest incomes. The town has a population of 5,812 in the 2001 census, which also showed there were 17 second homes in the town at that time.

The survey showed that most properties, 1,223, are semi-detached or terraced, with a slightly smaller number of 985 detached homes- but with only 390 flats or maisonettes. But figures from the Census showed that the amount of housing association or affordable homes to rent, at 10 per cent, was significantly less than the national average of 19 per cent, and the number of privately rented properties was even lower.

The survey has shown that Steyning has a particularly high proportion of elderly people in the 65-74 and also 75 and over age ranges, when compared to other geographical areas, clearly indicating that appropriate housing for local people is likely to be an issue, not just now, but also in the future. A high percentage of people have been living in the town for more than 20 years, with 56 for more than 50 years.

A quarter of all respondents are experiencing long-term illness, health problems or disability. Almost a third find it difficult to manage repairs and maintenance of their current homes, 27 per cent cannot manage the gardening and 19 per cent find it difficult to clean their homes.

A small percentage need help with everyday tasks such as form-filling and budgeting.

To enable them to remain in their own homes, 371 would need a handyman, 321 need care and support, while 208 want to have an alarm linked to a warden and 178 need physical adaptations to their residences.

The greatest number of respondents want to move to a smaller home, 145 would like a sheltered housing scheme and 118 want extra care sheltered housing.

Half of them would not consider moving to another area and are adamant they want to stay in Steyning, but almost 29 per cent said they would consider a neighbouring parish.

Another significant finding was that 44 per cent made it clear they do not know how and where they can access advice and information in relation to future housing and care options.