Funding secured for flagship project

The remodelling of the sheltered housing scheme at Farrow Court has received a significant boost with the news that £3.6million has been granted by central government to fund renovation work.

The money, successfully secured by Ashford Borough Council from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), will go towards financing the flagship project that will see Farrow Court provide 104 high-quality units, including learning disability units, recuperative care units a new day-care centre, communal facilities, a hairdressers and a restaurant.

The funding is for a further 76 units that the scheme will soon boast and frees up money previously allocated enabling the additional learning disability units to become a reality. The council will now also release just under £1.7million from its housing revenue account to build a further 15 affordable homes on the site.

The funding has come from the Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund from the Department of Health. The main aim of the fund is to support and accelerate the development of the specialised housing market. The fund is administered by the HCA as the government funding body for housing in England.

Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb, said:

“As we know, most people want to be independent in their own homes and as the population ages, more and more of us will need housing that supports us to do that. We have awarded companies funding to build more than 3,800 homes around the country. These will be tailored to people’s needs and will help them to remain active as long as possible without the need of going into a care home. Better and more suitable housing will also alleviate pressure on carers and family, as the person being cared for will be able to carry out everyday tasks more easily.”

Andy Rose, Chief Executive of the Homes and Communities Agency, said:

“Housing plays a crucial role in helping older people and disabled adults to live as independently as possible and with an ageing population and changing demographics, investment in specialised housing is more important than ever. Government has committed significant investment and I am pleased that the HCA has made allocations for so many new high quality homes to be built, while delivering value for money for the taxpayer. This is core business for the HCA and the allocations announced today will help make a real difference to people’s lives in communities right across the country.”

Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said:

“We are delighted to have secured this funding. We can now take forward the bold plans we have for the dementia-friendly scheme at Farrow Court in their entirety. It is clear that this funding endorses the work that we are embarking on – planning ahead to effectively put in place provision for an ageing population and to cater for an increase in demand for this kind of independent living. It gives us every confidence to deliver the project knowing that the HCA is prioritising its importance.

“By 2026 we anticipate that 40% of Ashford’s population will be over 50, so it is crucial that as a forward thinking authority we not only anticipate the future needs of the borough but provide the highest quality accommodation possible. The quality of our housing work is something that as an authority we are respected for and something that we want to continue to be known for nationally.

Cllr Aline Hicks, Ashford Borough Council’s portfolio holder for housing, said:

“With our partners PRP architects and Denne Construction Ltd this project will provide lifetime living for its tenants and benefit the whole community. This is why we are going to utilise the skills of local young people through the Denne skills academy and give our very best local tradesmen an opportunity to be part of Farrow Court’s construction.

“It is great news that the funding has been secured as it also means we can continue our own new-build programme that sees the council truly lead the way in Kent.”