Tenants forced to move out after Penzance tower block does not meet 'modern standards'

Fountain Court
Fountain Court, Penzance Credit: ITV News

People living in a block of flats for the over 55s in Penzance have been told they have to move out of their homes.

Housing Association LiveWest says the 1960s flats at Fountain Court do not meet 'modern building standards'.

It says it will be closing down the building and relocating tenants from the 22 flats into other properties it manages.

Some residents in the 7 storey block have told ITV News they do not want to leave.

View from the top: Fountain Court looks out over Mounts Bay Credit: ITV News

Martin Pellow and partner Linda Dyett have lived on the top floor of Fountain Court for 5 years. The 3 bedroom maisonette has spectacular views over Mounts Bay.

Martin says their home does not have any cold or damp issues, and they would like to see the building upgraded instead.

Martin told ITV News:"Me and Linda have both spent a lot of time doing our flat up to make it our home, and we're quite happy and comfortable here.

"We feel safe here, and to actually have to move and start all over again is going to be a nightmare to be honest."

Martin Pellow lives on the top floor Credit: ITV News

Linda says the flats are mainly occupied by older residents who fear losing a little community that they love.

Linda Dyett said: "We didn't think that anything like this would ever happen. Some people have lived here for over 16 years and thought that this was their last home."

Resident Sue Richardson has lived at Fountain Court for almost 10 years. She told ITV News she felt 'sick' at the thought of having to move.

She said:"I thought it was a joke, I couldn't believe it. It's making me feel so ill, I don't know where I'm going to end up, where am I going?"

Sue Richardson Credit: ITV News

In a statement James Reseigh, Director of Neighbourhoods for Housing Association LiveWest, said: "Fountain Court was built in the 1960s and no longer meets modern building standards or energy efficiency expectations."

"Some customers at Fountain Court have also told us that several aspects of the building no longer meet their needs.

"We have carefully considered this feedback as part of our decision to close Fountain Court, and provide customers with a modern, energy efficient home in the local area.

"Customers will be able to choose one of our vacant homes and will not need to register with Cornwall Council’s Homechoice Register."

Fountain Court Credit: ITV News

LiveWest has also pledged to help tenants with their relocation costs - and says it has a long term plan to develop more social housing.

It said:"Once they have chosen their home, we will be coordinating and paying for all customers’ moving costs and we will also ensure their new homes are decorated, including fitting new carpets.

“In addition, as we recognise the disruption, we will pay each household a home loss payment of nearly £8,000.

“We are absolutely committed to providing new homes in Cornwall. We own and manage over 10,000 homes in the county, and we plan to build more than 1,200 affordable homes in Cornwall over the next five years.”

Residents are being moved out of Fountain Court over the next eight months. LiveWest says several residents have already chosen homes to move into.

In the wider housing sector, landlords could soon be required to meet new energy efficiency targets.

The government is proposing legislation under the Minimum Energy Performance of Buildings (No. 2) Bill that by 2025, all newly rented properties will be required to have an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) rating of C or above.

For existing tenancies, the new regulations would not apply until 2028. Currently rented properties require an EPC rating of ‘E’ or above.

The rule changes are in line with the Government’s net zero emissions by 2050 targets.

Homes in England and Wales have an average energy efficiency rating of band D, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics.