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Would an “older persons’ village” in Hornchurch be a much needed facility or a “ghetto”?

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That was the question at last week’s Havering Council meeting after a suggestion by the Labour group.

Cllr Keith Darvill (Labour, Heaton) said that the council should recommend to the new Clinical Commissioning Group that the former St George’s Hospital site on Suttons Lane, should become such a village.

He said: “We have one of the oldest populations of any London borough and it’s increasing.

“It seems fitting to consider the site as suitable for people in or near retirement.”

He added: “The site could sustain a mixture of homes for sale and rent and sheltered housing as well as a health centre.”

But deputy council leader Cllr Steven Kelly (Conservative, Emerson Park) said that there was a surplus of places for older people in the borough and a new facility would see people from outside Havering move into it - and potentially needing council care.

His party put forward an amendment which simply stated that the council would try to establish a health facility on the site, protect Havering’s greenbelt and that the proceeds from the sale of the site should be spent on local people.

Cllr Georgina Galpin described Cllr Darvill’s plan, which was backed by the Independent Residents’ Group, as a “wish list” saying that developers would come up with plans.

She added: “I don’t think Havering is full of just elderly people, we need young families too, it’s very important to actually have young and old side by side.

“If we have almost ghettoes of just older people, that’s not good.”

Residents’ Association member Cllr Barbara Matthews (Hacton) agreed.

“The key word is “ghetto”. It would be a magnet for all the local yobbery and everything else, it’s quite ghastly.”

The administration’s amendment was approved by 39 votes to 8.

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