Woodland Cottages

The eight semi-detached properties were built of reinforced concrete. They are inefficient to heat and consequently have a significant carbon footprint. Built post war, they present a challenge for both long-term maintenance and to improve against the aims of our net zero carbon agenda.

Their future is part of a long-term project and we have written to and visited our tenants recently to explain why we are having to take some immediate steps. Rumours have been circulating that tenants are being evicted and homes are being compulsorily purchased. Neither of these are correct.

Long term future

We have taken the opportunity to buy back one of the properties on the open market which had previously been purchased under the Right to Buy scheme.

To have all the properties again in council ownership allows us greater flexibility when considering the future of the site. To support this flexibility, demolition notices have been served meaning that no further homes can be sold whilst their future is being decided.

Our long term aim is to provide better homes for our Folkestone & Hythe District Council tenants and we shall be continuing to keep tenants and stakeholders fully involved in all the key stages of this project.

Once the future of the properties is agreed, each tenant will be fully involved in their options - one of which could be moving back into a new home at the same location which they have been involved in designing.

Questions and answers

The following are responses to questions raised at our meetings with Woodland Cottages tenants. 

Can I remain next door to my current neighbours?

We would do all we can to make this happen.  It may be difficult to achieve this during a temporary move but easier if you both want to move back into the new homes.

Will the council honour the Right to Buy (RTB) pledge and preserved rights?

Information on the right to buy page of our website outlines all the information regarding your rights to purchase your council home. Tenants' preserved rights would remain but by serving the demolition notice your current home at Woodland Cottages cannot be purchased from the council. 

If I did agree to move, an alternative property needs to be within 7-10 miles?

Woodland Cottages tenants would take priority for homes that become available.  In addition they would have first choice on any new homes built on the Woodland Cottages site.

Can the council pay us the RTB equity share to purchase elsewhere?

This is a possibility and can be looked into.

Will the tenancy remain the same lifetime tenancy and will we remain council tenants?

There would be no changes to your conditions of tenancy and you would remain a council tenant.

Why were we not given any prior notice?

Writing to you and meeting with you were the first steps in talking to you about this project.  

Can we return here?  My preference would be to come back to a property with a garden.

We hope that tenants would want to be involved in a project to build new homes that they would wish to return and live in. Estate and garden layout would be very much part of the design process.

What guarantees can you give that we can come back to a new build home? Is there a risk that the council will run out of funds to complete the project? Is there a risk that the council would sell to a developer who will not give residents a guarantee and they will have to remain in their temporary accommodation?

A council scheme has to be fully funded before it starts. Written guarantees would be provided confirming that current tenants can return to a new home on the site. You would also have the opportunity to move into a different council home elsewhere in the district or locally if that is your preference. 

If moved out temporarily, could we stay in Lyminge Area?

We would do our best to find the most suitable temporary accommodation for you in the local area.

Would a new home have adaptations?

New homes would be more accessible and enable tenants to live in them more comfortably and for longer.  If a tenant needed special adaptations these would be built into the initial design where possible.

Will the council pay for associated costs, storage, removals etc.?

All reasonable costs and associated expenses of moving into temporary accommodation and back again into your new home would be met by the council. If you have a garden shed, for example, we would either move it or provide a new one if there is not one at the temporary accommodation and build one at your new home. 

Can we keep our pets? 

Pets would be welcome in any temporary accommodation and in your new home. 

Can we refuse temporary accommodation, if not suitable or not liked?

We would work with you to identify your housing needs and find suitable temporary accommodation that meets those needs.

Will succession rights be maintained?

Yes, your conditions of tenancy would not be changed. This includes the right to succession (unless this has already been used).  

We have spent a lot of money on our garden, would you pay compensation for the works carried out?

We would discuss with you the costs involved.  We would also work with you to help landscape the garden in your new home.

We have health problems, how will you cater for these?

We would work with you to assess your health needs and explore how these could be met in your temporary home and in your new home.

Why is the council meeting residents individually and not in a group setting?

Some of the questions raised are personal to each tenant and it was felt that our discussions should be on a one to one basis.

Why are you doing this, as you are going to build at Otterpool?

The new homes proposed at Otterpool are to help meet the demand for additional housing in the future.  We are looking at meeting local housing demand in the Lyminge area where we know people want live.

Is the work funded by the government? 

It will be funded by the council through what is known as the Housing Revenue Account. 

Why can you not upgrade existing properties - we have a quote of £50,000 to do the works?

It is not cost effective to spend this amount on a property that will continue to need future maintenance and improvement. New properties will be more fuel-efficient for you and for future generations of tenants. 

Ashford Borough Council has simply clad Airey Houses at £20,000 per dwelling why can't you do the same?

A detailed appraisal will be undertaken but it is unlikely that cladding would reduce the long- term maintenance costs and improvements that will be needed for the homes.

How much notice will they be given if this is to go ahead?

The project would take several years to complete and tenants would be involved throughout the project.

Why are Woodland Cottages the only properties served with the notices and not the others identified as the same structure?

Reviewing the council's housing stock is an ongoing process. Woodland Cottages has come to the fore of that process due to one of the properties being sold.

What is the driver for the planned action?

To build more and better council homes for the local community.  To ensure future homes are more economical to heat, to maintain and meet future net zero carbon requirements.

What about the trees?

Managing the trees and the wider environment will be a key requirements of any future development. 

Will you send a letter to summarise what the proposals might be?

Any proposal would require planning permission and that stage is some way off. Our council officers have drawn up two initial sketches but specialist architects would be used to develop any further plans.  We are committed to keeping you informed and the development of any firm proposals would include your involvement.

How many properties does the council intend to build?

It is too early to say. Please see answer above.

Is it a 'land grab?'

No, the land is owned by the council already.

Has your decision been made based on wanting to increase housing stock?

No, we need to consider the long term need to maintain and improve Woodland Cottages, including meeting the requirements to improve their thermal efficiency.  In serving the demolition notice it has enabled us to keep our options open which includes developing more homes.