Developer seeks permission to remove over 55s sale restriction on Stotfold's Harlington House apartments

Over 55s have no desire to move into properties built specifically for them in Chronicle country, a developer has argued as it seeks permission to sell the homes to anyone who wants them.

Crest Nicholson has applied to Central Bedfordshire Council to remove the over 55s sale restriction from the apartments at Harlington House, Fairfield Gardens.

Fairfield Gardens

Fairfield Gardens

It's the second time it has tried to get the restriction lifted since the original plans for 131 homes on the full site were approved in 2015. In 2017 CBC deemed insufficient marketing had been undertaken and so blocked the move.

A condition of the planning approval restricts the occupancy of 19 apartments, completed in October 2018, to the over 55s and their dependants.

However, despite extensive marketing for more than two years, Crest Nicholson insists interest in the properties from older members of the community is limited.

But Fairfield Parish Council isn't convinced and is encouraging residents to attend a public meeting on Thursday, January 23, to have their say on the latest attempt to change the condition on the apartment block.

Councillor Barrie Dack, chairman of Fairfield Parish Council, said: "If you bought an apartment in a block for over 55s and they then decided that anyone could then live there you would not be happy.

"This is the second attempt by the developers to get the condition removed, the first was opposed by us.

"They are saying that they are unable to sell the apartments, my understanding is that since the latest news with Brexit there has been an increased interest in the apartments.

"The point of the public meeting is to hear what the residents think, we want to hear from people of Harlington House and Fairfield Gardens.

"I will be out today to raise awareness of the public meeting, we are encouraging as many people as possible to attend."

Crest Nicholson state the recent Luton and Central Bedfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment points out there is a “clear preference for bungalows” for the elderly population, and “there is very little demand for apartments from these households” for apartments.

In the planning statement it says: "A significant effort has been made to market the properties to over 55s.

"However, due to much slower than anticipated demand for the apartments, and no current expectation that many more will be sold, Crest Nicholson wishes to remove this condition such that the apartments can be made available to all prospective purchasers, whilst still remaining available to those over 55.

"If Condition 16 is removed, a wide and appropriate mix of housing will still be provided on this site. This is in addition to the 70-bed care home which is being delivered on the site.

"We hope that officers and the members of the council acknowledge that this imposition of this condition is not appropriate for the apartments, and allow for it to be removed so that they can be made available to all."

Fairfield Parish Council is holding the public meeting at the Canteen at the Baycroft Care home, Hitchin Road, at 7.30pm, on Thursday, January 23.