Reprieve for now, but new plans to come

Ravenslaw House
Ravenslaw House

Abbeyfield has withdrawn its plans for a major development in Alnwick, which had sparked controversy due to the loss of a historic building.

In January, the Gazette reported that the older people’s housing and care charity had submitted a bid to Northumberland County Council for a three-storey development featuring 28 flats for independent living alongside 31 care suites to replace the existing Abbeyfield House and Ravenslaw House on South Road.

Prior to that, in November 2014, neighbours were alarmed at the submission of an application for prior notification for the demolition of Ravenslaw House, once home to one of Alnwick’s famous sons – fishing tycoon William Hardy.

The planning application, which was part of a proposed £8million investment, also raised concerns among nearby residents, who claimed the development would be ‘overbearing’.

This week, the Abbeyfield Society revealed it has withdrawn the plans after listening to feedback from residents and the county council.

But the charity, in partnership with the local authority, is now focusing on creating new plans ‘which better meet the needs of older people, as identified through a study on local demand taking place this month and the valuable insights already gathered from the local authority and those living nearby’.

The new plans will be supported by a merger of the Abbeyfield North Northumberland Extra Care Society at Alnwick into the national Abbeyfield Society, which has already been given the go-ahead by the Homes and Communities Agency.

Abdul Ravat, head of development (north), said: “Abbeyfield always works in partnership, so that we can accurately identify the housing and care needs of local communities.

“We will continue to work with the council and other key stakeholders, including local residents, as we prepare new plans to better meet the needs of older people living in north Northumberland, focusing on independent living rather than residential care.”

The Gazette asked whether the new plans were likely to still include the demolition of Ravenslaw House, but was told it was too early to say.

An Abbeyfield spokesman said: “As ever, the welfare of residents will continue to be the priority for Abbeyfield as we review options for the next steps.

“We will continue to consult with local stakeholders and listen to what they tell us, in order to determine the best way forward to meet local needs.”