Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting OXFORD NEWS to 80360 or email us
Botley pensioners fear for future of their homes
ELDERLY residents fear a shopping and leisure development will rob them of their homes.
With Field House in Botley being earmarked for demolition, residents say the uncertainty about their futures has become intolerable.
Field House, which opened in 1988, looks set to go, along with the 1960s West Way Centre, to make way for a multi-screen cinema, supermarket, shops and student accommodation.
Residents, some in their 80s and 90s, claim they are being kept in the dark about whether their homes are to be flattened as part of the redevelopment.
And they have appealed to Field House’s owners Sovereign Vale Housing to spell out whether they intend to sell the site to Doric Properties, which hopes to submit a planning application in a matter of months.
Andy Taylor, who chaired an emergency meeting for residents on Tuesday, said: “It seems that elderly people here are the last to know what is going to happen.
“It is causing terrible stress and worry.
“There are old soldiers here, people who are ill, some with cancer. They do not deserve this kind of upheaval.
“People want piece of mind. One elderly gentleman was found crying because he loves it here and does not want to move.”
Sovereign said it plans to hold a meeting with residents next week, while the developer said it would be ready to build a modern replacement building.
But many residents at Field House say they do not wish to be forced from their homes, while others dread the prospect of not knowing where they will be moved to, either temporarily or permanently.
Peter Coles, 76, who has lived at Field House for 11 years, said: “It’s a big upset.
“When I came, I expected to spend the rest of my life here.
“It is a great place to live. I don’t want to go anywhere else.”
Residents held their own meeting on Tuesday, following a two day public exhibition last week organised by Doric, which some of the elderly residents were unable to get to.
Field House provides 60 units and four bungalows.
It is classified as age restricted accommodation, with residents having to be over 55.
Norman Howells, 67, who worked for 10 years in the county council’s highways division, said: “There are now so many rumours. People are worried. We need to be able to plan the rest of our retirement. That is not too much to ask.”
Roy Probert, spokesman for Sovereign, refused to say whether the organisation would sell the site. He said: “A senior Sovereign manager met Field House residents at the end of February and our regional director and regional housing manager will be meeting them again next week to discuss the proposals that Doric presented at the consultation event.
“We will obviously try to answer any questions that they raise on the day, but we mainly want to hear their views on the plans.”
Doric director Simon Hillcox said the company wanted to include the Field House site within the development, but the decision would depend on the outcome of talks about the site with Sovereign.
Mr Hillcox said: “If we could incorporate the land into the scheme, we could replace it with better more modern accommodation, which could be linked to the new piazza, new community hall and the church.”