Carn Thomas Plans May Include Open Market Property

Former school site at Carn Thomas

New extra care houses planned for Carn Thomas may have to be available for anyone to buy.

That’s because they’ll need to build more homes than are required for the elderly to make the project attractive to developers.

The Homes and Communities Agency have said they are unable to fund a 20-unit scheme because they can buy more for their money on the mainland and Councillors have heard the cost of the scheme may exceed £14m.

Extra care housing is even more expensive to build than normal housing as there is a need to include communal spaces and accommodation for 24-hour care and support.

Strategic Development Officer, Aisling Hick, told the Community Services meeting that the ‘uplift’ costs of building on the islands are the biggest problem and most private developers “don’t get out of bed for less than 40 units.”

They won’t want empty units so retired mainland residents could be able to buy the properties on the open market and relocate.

But to fit the units on the site they may need an “intensive” 4 or 5 storey building and Aisling admits the Chief Planning Officer may find that “scary.”

Another suggestion is that 20 so-called lifetime homes, which provide for residents of all ages could be built. Locals in need of accommodation could be given first call.

Aisling said the extra care housing development at Marina Court in Tewkesbury remains the role model but the communal areas and facilities are expensive and are harder to fund in the current climate.

Aisling was keen to point out that she still has a number of routes she is pursuing including talks with the Methodist Care Home provider and the NHS.

One option could be to “repurpose” Park House or the hospital with specialist beds for severe dementia patients, offering round-the-clock care.

Marian Bennett said written documentation made no reference to open market sales but she was pleased that a community land trust model is another option being investigated.

Mollie Peacock commended Aisling for “looking at all aspects“ and she urged that she doesn’t rush it “because you need to take time to find out what is best for Scilly.”

“It has to last a long time and we need to get it right,” she added.

Councillor Fred Ticehurst said he was keen to find ways to help people who want to ‘downsize’ to a smaller property including having a proper review of this during future planning applications.

Aisling told members that nothing will happen this year or next year to the former secondary school site at Carn Thomas but Marian warned that the building’s derelict state would become a “point of concern within the community.”

The site is being used by the Library and Registrar Officers while the Porthcressa regeneration is underway and Marian asked that other temporary uses could be investigated.

Aisling said that site visits were planned so they could find other potential uses for the building.

The Council needs to carry out more feasibility study work and Aisling says £20,000 is in the budget for this. They need to bring in an expert in commercial property to help the Council realize the assets it has in its property.