Parents battle to save Devizes residential complex from closure

  • Watch Caron Bell's report

Parents in Wiltshire are battling to save a residential complex for adults with learning disabilities, after the charity which runs it announced plans to close it down.

Furlong Close in Rowde near Devizes houses 34 people in self-contained flats, and also has a day centre for non-residents.

But charity operator HFT had announced plans to shut the site in June 2021, to the anger of many parents who say they were not consulted.

Although HFT has now agreed to Wiltshire Council's request to delay the closure until a full consultation has taken place, it says it still intends to close the site in the long term.

Furlong Close is a cul-de-sac of five bungalows, divided into self-contained flats. Credit: ITV West Country

Built in the 1990s, the aim of campus-style facilities like Furlong Close was to provide a mix of independent living and on-site support. But these type of facilities have been criticised for stigmatising disabled people by separating them from the local community and encouraging dependency on staff.

The Care Quality Commission says such a facility would not be allowed to open now.

Wiltshire Council supports the closure decision in principal and says it will help families find the best alternatives for each resident.

Adults with learning disabilities are now encouraged to live in smaller, community-based settings, designed to allow them more control, independence and social integration. But many parents of residents at Furlong Close say their children are happy and settled at the complex, and would not be able to cope physically or socially with life in the community.

More than 2,500 people have signed a petition against the closure.

These are vulnerable people in our society who need us to fight for them to continue to live in purpose built campus that they are familiar with and where they have friends and know the area.

Amanda Humphreys, petition organiser