Work begins on the first sheltered scheme of the future

Farrow Court is going to revolutionise the way that provision for older people is delivered. The new dementia-friendly accommodation will offer 100 high-quality living units, including learning disability units and recuperative care units for people released from hospital who need respite before they return to their home. There will also be a new day-care centre, communal facilities, a hairdressers and a restaurant that can be used by the local community, not just residents. It will also be built to Ashford Borough Council’s lifetime living standards.

A small ceremony will take place on Friday 27th September at 12 noon to mark the official start of work on site. Damian Green MP, Leader of Ashford Borough Council Cllr Gerry Clarkson and Farrow Court residents will be there.

Ashford Borough Council has been successful in securing grant funding from the Homes and Communities Agency and £3.6million from the Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund at the Department of Health to fund the remodelling work.

Local tradesmen and businesses have already attended an event to see how they can get involved with the project work and the council has also agreed that construction company Denne, a Bouygues UK company, who so successfully transformed the look and fortunes on Stanhope, will set up its nationally commended skills academy. Through construction, it will offer opportunities for local people to be involved in the project through site visits, work experience placements, apprenticeships, back to work schemes and on-going school engagement.

The way in which the council is working in partnership with local companies and providers like Denne, who have a proven track record of delivery in the borough already, epitomises the way that work will be procured on this project. The council is extremely confident that this approach will lead to successful outcomes.

By 2026 it is anticipated that 40% of Ashford’s population will be aged over 50, so it is vital that the future needs of the borough are addressed.

Existing residents are overwhelmingly in favour of the plans. Two in particular, Henry Beaney, who has lived at Farrow Court for 16 years, and Emily Gooding, who has lived there for 19 years, have spoken of their excitement about the project and will be present at the sod-turning ceremony. Henry said:

“We’re really excited about having new accommodation. It will be great for everything to be new and have new appliances. It will improve our quality of life but retain the community aspects that are so important here.”

Emily said:

“I’m looking forward to having a lounge that’s big enough to get a settee in, so I can have visitors. I also like the idea that we’ll have balconies so we can sit outside with tables and chairs and grow a few pot plants.”

Damian Green, MP for Ashford, said:

“I am a strong advocate of the vision for Farrow Court. It’s a truly ground-breaking project and one that will help Ashford meet the future needs of an aging population. Given the plans by leading architects PRP, the council’s proven track record in project delivery and Denne’s professionalism and commitment to the community we have the best possible team in place to deliver this remodelling.”

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

“Farrow Court will far exceed what you think of when you hear the phrase ‘sheltered accommodation’. Itepitomises the innovation that we are renowned for. This project is going to transform the lives of existing residents and offer real opportunities for local tradesmen and young people. The result will be high quality, energy efficient accommodation that allows existing and future residents to live independently and to feel part of the wider community.

“The funding we have secured from the Homes and Communities Agency and the Department of Health illustrates how important this project is being viewed nationally. Rightly, we continue to be respected for the quality of our housing work and in addition to delivering this project, the level of funding secured has the added benefit of enabling us to release just under £1.7million from our housing revenue account to build a further 15 affordable homes in the borough.”

Graham Brown, Chairman of Denne, said:

“We are delighted to be working with Ashford Borough Council again at Stanhope following the completion of our successful regeneration project. In partnership, we will once again be establishing a skills academy on site to provide opportunities for local people to gain skills and employment within the industry as well as engaging with local companies throughout the redevelopment of Farrow Court.”