CONCERNED residents in Wotton have expressed their ‘disgust’ after news that four council-owned homes in the town will be demolished, and their tenants forced to move.

Stroud District Council approved a decision last month to demolish four homes in Gloucester Street and Bradley Street and build six to eight houses in their place.

Both homes have a large amount of garden and allotment space, stemming from the 40s/50s when planning policy stated that homes needed space to grow vegetables.

This added space opened up the possibility for further homes to be built on the site.

The two homes in Gloucester Street are vacant but long-term residents still live in the two in Bradley Street and are not happy with the decision, neither are their neighbours.

Gladys Heaven has lived in Bradley Street for 14 years and in Tabernacle Road for a further 53 years, her first responder who resides in the one of the houses, will be forced to be relocated.

She wrote to the Gazette to state how she would be “very much affected by the development.”

“I consider this to be most unfeeling and unfair,” said Gladys, who will soon turn 92.

“A house is only four walls and a roof – home is where you have good memories, where you put down roots, where you familiar with your surrounding in old age and where you can shut the world out and feel safe and know it is where you belong. This is irreplaceable.

“The older you become, the more worrying change becomes. Like old plants, the elderly do not transplant well.”

She said compassion from SDC was required to halt the plans to allow tenants to “peacefully end their days in the place they call ‘home’.”

The residents of the homes range from their late 70s to early 90s, while the houses have been in place for nearly 80 years.

One of the remaining tenants, who has lived in the street for 40 years, told the Gazette: “I ain’t moving, not until they offer me a new house.

“I don’t want to move, I’m too old for it now, but I can’t do anything about it, not up against the council.

“I’m not going out of Wotton, but there aren’t any homes for me here.”

Sally Sonnex, who has lived in Gloucester Street for 17 years, said: “As long as it stays as sheltered housing then that’s ok, but I’m concerned about the parking.

“I also feel very sorry for the residents that have been there so many years, one has been there 65 years, it’s not fair that they have to find somewhere new.”

The council set a cap of £30,000 on how much it can spend on home improvements, which if exceeded will not be allowed.

It states that £37,500 worth of work is required to repair the homes, leading it to consider other options.

The area’s three district councillors all approve of the plans, stating that Wotton is in dire need of more affordable housing for future generations.

They intend to make sure that the current tenants of the homes are top priority for new housing.

Robin Baker, whose sister Kathleen Wilkes lives in one of the Bradley Street homes set to be demolished, said that she was only informed in March about the plans.

“She only found out on March 16 when someone came to the door asking about where she wanted to move to,” he said.

Kathleen’s family have lived in the house since it was built, while her brother was born there.

One Gloucester Street resident told the Gazette: “I’m disgusted, it’s a huge disturbance for me and a shame to lose such beautiful gardens, they’re irreplaceable.

“It’s also going to cause more traffic, but it’s the health of the people who will have to move that I’m more concerned about.

“The effect on the environment will also be a disaster and it will change the character of the street.

“It’s all be done pretty insensitively.”

SDC hopes to have plans available within six months and build the homes in the next year.

An SDC spokesman said: “Moving people out of their homes isn’t a decision that we take lightly.

“Unfortunately the cost of bringing the two empty properties up to a liveable standard would be far higher than our limited budgets allow and still wouldn’t deliver a modern standard of housing.

“In addition we would have to spend similar sums on the two homes with tenants in, one of which has significant damp issues.

“Four properties that are coming towards the end of their useful lives will be replaced by up to eight much needed modern homes that will be warmer and cheaper to run.

“We have visited the tenants affected in Bradley Street several times, keeping them fully informed throughout the process.

“When the time comes for them to move they will have all the support they need and we will work with social services so that Mrs Heaven’s needs are taken care of.”

For our previous story about the Gloucester Street and Bradley Street homes click here.