The proposal for 34 new homes built on the site of Elizabeth Huggins Cottages in Gravesend has been submitted to Gravesham Borough Council.
Janet Gifford & Bernard Carter outside their cottage
The cul-de-sac of 10 bungalows on Cross Lane West, Gravesend, house ex-servicemen, many of whom have illnesses or are disabled.
The trust that owns the site, the Elizabeth Huggins Cottages Charity, wants to demolish the 90-year-old homes in phases and build a range of homes for injured, former personnel from the Army, Royal Navy, RAF and Merchant Navy.
It insists there will be minimal disruption to the current residents, who will have priority for the new accommodation.
The buildings will include two pairs of three-bedroom semi-detached houses; three, two-storey blocks providing eight one-bedroom flats, 12 two-bedroom flats and one three-bedroom maisonette for the warden as well as two terraces of two-bedroom cottages together with car park and cycle storage.
Bernard Carter, 78, spokesperson for the residents, says he feels “let down” by the trust. Mr Carter also claims that the trust is in breach of rules for social housing set down by the government as he believes the opinions of residents weren’t properly considered,
He said: “The people are stressed. We went to the meeting and they just said “we’re going to knock your bungalows down” and it was a complete and utter shock. My partner said that when she heard the plan it was like her heart broke.”
Bernard Carter is worried about redevelopment plans on his street. Residents Stan Andrews, Bernard Carter, Janet Gifford, Pamela Blake, Colin Waugh, Keith Fidge, Margaret White, Jim Reddington.
Mr Carter, who served in the RAF during his national service, has been living on the site for seven years and has spent £3,000 on work to his garden, which stands to be destroyed during the development.
The pensioner is also worried about young families living on the site with the possibility of children disturbing frail and mentally vulnerable residents.
He said: “They’re going to stay in their bungalows whilst the work is being done around them.
“The builders are going to be working early in the morning, so the residents will have disrupting vibrations every day for the next two years. I think stress will kill some of the people here because they’re so weak.”
Trustee Frank Gibson, 87, says that the changes are necessary and it wouldn’t be cost affective to maintain the old bungalows.
The former Gravesham Borough and Kent County Council councillor said: “We know it’s a worry for residents and changes have to be made, but the outcome is absolutely essential.
“We have the support of the Joint Service Housing Advice Office and the Ministry of Defence, who are keen on the project and it will be carried out so that the existing rustic ambiance of the site will be maintained.
“I have to stress that our objective is that we provide homes for injured, incapacitated servicemen. There are many today and they do desperately need homes.
”We do not have an obligation to provide accommodation specifically for elderly people.”
The residents have sent a letter to the council and are awaiting a reply from the planning manager.