By Laura Payne Wednesday 24 October 2012 Updated: 24/10 14:44
THE AGE at which people can move into sheltered accommodation flats could be lowered to cope with demand.
Currently, the sheltered accommodation offered by Rugby Borough Council is either for people aged over 55 or over 60.
But the council says some of these flats are lying empty while there is demand for housing from people not old enough to qualify for them.
The council is in the process of talking to residents to discuss the possibility of opening up the accommodation to younger people in need, which could include setting a lower age limit.
Coun Leigh Hunt, Rugby Borough Council's spokeswoman for sustainable inclusive communities, said: "Some of our sheltered housing schemes have become difficult to let, either because schemes are located in hilly areas, are not close enough to shops or public transport, or because they are difficult to modify to install stair lifts or accommodate wheelchairs.
"At the same time we have a real shortage of accommodation for younger people and this review is looking at the possibility of lowering the age requirement of some of our sheltered flats to meet this need.
"We're currently part-way through a conversation with our sheltered housing tenants about how a pilot scheme might work, and what ages might be appropriate if we were to reduce the age requirement."
The sites which could be affected are: Lawford Road and Victoria Street, Rounds Gardens, Clifton Road, Deepmore Road, Jackson Road, Featherbed Lane, Lever Road and Coton Road.
But Rounds Gardens resident Keith Ward, who is part of the Sheltered Housing Association, said he was concerned about the proposals.
He called the council's arguments for the changes, which cited the flats' location in hilly areas and away from shops, as nonsense.
He added: "Within the Rounds Gardens site several of the residents have had heart surgery and some have long-term severe disabilities and require the quiet surroundings of a sheltered complex.
"This area should be withdrawn from the consultation document."
A spokesman for the council told the Observer it was highly unlikely much younger people would be moved into areas with older residents.
If changes are brought in they will only come into affect as vacancies arise which means no-one will be moved out of their flat while prospective tenants will have to apply for the flat.
The lifeline and warden services will continue to run as they do currently.
The council expects to make a decision on a pilot scheme to re-designate its sheltered accommodation in December 2012.
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