Two sheltered housing sites to close

Abbeyfield Ivy House sheltered housing
The Ivy House is one of Abbeyfield's two sheltered housing sites that will close [BBC]

Two sheltered housing sites in Somerset will close after a prospective new owner pulled out of a deal.

Last summer The Abbeyfield Society, which owns the two homes in Wellington, told residents they were looking into whether it could upgrade the buildings or would need to close them.

Hundreds of residents in Ivy House and The Old Vicarage signed a petition fighting the potential closures in June 2023.

Abbeyfield said it was committed to helping people find suitable alternative accommodation.

'Residents really upset'

Abbeyfield said the coronavirus pandemic, inflation and staff shortages had affected its ability to ensure the accommodation was affordable.

Louise Morgan's grandmother is a resident at Ivy House.

She told BBC Radio Somerset: “Some residents were crying, and they are really upset to have to leave their homes."

She said many of the residents had "been there a long time" and "for them to give up their home, to move to a county they do not know" would be really hard for them.

"Wellington do not have flats available for people to live, so where are they going to go?

“All of them said they are not going to go without a fight. They are going to stay until they are kicked out, which is good on them, I say,” she added.

Somerset Councillor for Wellington, Andrew Govier, (Lab) said: "The good news is, I believe, they [the residents] all have tenancies which mean that they can stay for as long as they like.

"Abbeyfield would have to take court action to get them evicted.

"So they are not going to be forced out of their homes in the very near future, but there is a great risk to the tenancy going forward."

'Investment too great for us'

An Abbeyfield spokesperson said: “The decision follows an extensive consultation process, during which we have listened carefully to representations made by residents, relatives and staff and spoken to a variety of stakeholders about the different options available to try and keep the home open and serving its community.

"Significant investment is required to meet the standards expected by prospective residents and regulators, now and in the future, and the costs to carry out this work, even if spread over an extended period, are too great for us to meet."

The spokesperson added that Abbeyfield was unable to maintain the homes as a "financial sustainable service that is fit for purpose in the future".

Somerset Council has been approached for comment.