Greenwich’s Sam Manners House to close despite neighbours’ worries

Sam Manners House
Councillors want to demolish the 1970s block and replace it with council housing

Greenwich Council’s cabinet has backed plans to close a sheltered housing block in east Greenwich, despite neighbours’ worries that the building will be left empty for years.

Councillors want the site of Sam Manners House, in Tuskar Street, to be used for new council housing if a bid to City Hall for funding is successful.

But people who live near the building fear it will be left unused like the former Arches leisure centre nearby, which has been empty for three years. They are also unhappy that they have not been consulted on the future of the site.

The building has 41 units, but 17 of them are empty and the council says it is increasingly difficult to let out the bedsits, 27 of which do not have their own bathrooms.

“The bedsit flats are small and poorly laid out with limited natural light in comparison with other sheltered schemes,” a report presented to the cabinet said.

Council housing boss Jamie Carswell told the cabinet that the accommodation was “largely unfit and not fit for purpose as sheltered accommodation”.

But neighbours – who worry the site will be left to decay like The Arches and East Greenwich Library, both closed by the council in 2015 when their services moved to The Greenwich Centre – wanted the decision deferred for “meaningful consultation in the neighbourhood”.

One Tuskar Street resident, Craig Kershaw, said: “THere’s been zero consultation with the Sam Manners House residents themselves, who are our neighbours. There’s no certain outcome as to what will happen to that site. We have a tremendous community spirit on our street, which includes the residents of Sam Manners.”

Neighbour Teresa Perchard said in a statement read out by Kershaw: “The decisions you will take tonight will affect me and my neighbours significantly for an undefined period of years.

“You have not consulted anyone and information has not been accessible, despite writing to ward councillors. We had to look at cabinet papers to get information. We have not been asked to engage in the process – instead we have had to campaign to be noticed.”

But housing cabinet member Chris Kirby said the council had stopped letting rooms at Sam Manners in 2017, and added: “The idea that we should consult with residents when the matter is safety and appropriate accommodation – I’m sorry, I don’t agree. There isn’t a consultation we would have held that would have kept elderly people in accommodation that isn’t appropriate.

Kirby promised “full and meaningful and wide consultation on the future of the site”. “But we really have to separate that from what is there at the moment, and our only consideration can be for the safety and comfort of the residents of Sam Manners House,” he added.

Kershaw was not allowed to respond to Kirby’s points.

Tuskar Street
Tuskar Street is a tight-knit neighbourhood, councillors were told

Peninsula ward councillor and cabinet member Denise Scott-McDonald denied that her colleagues had ignored the concerns of Tuskar Street neighbours, while deputy leader David Gardner said an arrangement at another former sheltered housing block, Fred Styles House in Charlton, to be occupied by property guardians had worked “very, very well”.

“That has preserved the property and security, and provided cheap accommodation for young single people without children,” he said.

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