New home for blind on the way

TWO major projects which will create a new state-of-the art home for the blind and visually-impaired at Felixstowe have taken a big step forward.The multi-million pound project will involve redevelopment of the existing St Felix Home for the Blind and the creation of a “very sheltered” complex on the site of the Conford House warden-controlled centre.

TWO major projects which will create a new state-of-the art home for the blind and visually-impaired at Felixstowe have taken a big step forward.

The multi-million pound project will involve redevelopment of the existing St Felix Home for the Blind and the creation of a “very sheltered” complex on the site of the Conford House warden-controlled centre.

The scheme for the century-old St Felix in Princes Road will help fund the redevelopment of Conford House in Taunton Road and Exeter Road, Walton.

Ipswich Blind Society and Flagship Housing are carrying out the partnership project together.

Roger Fern, chairman of the blind society, said planning applications for the scheme had been submitted to Suffolk Coastal council.

The plans for St Felix include converting the main house into two large town houses and a smaller home, conversion of the stables into a home and a new bungalow being built in the garden.

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The plans retain the original features of the former doctor's house, built in 1902.

At Taunton Road, the centre will be redeveloped with 32 flats - each with two bedrooms, living room, kitchen and bathroom - and community facilities, all adapted for the visually impaired. Care and support will be provided by staff on-site and night staff.

Once the new scheme is completed, the residents of St Felix will transfer and the old home will be sold to a developer - the proceeds helping to fund the new scheme.

“This is the next exciting step in our project to provide state-of-the-art accommodation for elderly visually impaired people,” said Mr Fern.

Application for grant aid will be made to the Housing Corporation in October as long as planning consent is received.

If all goes according to plan, residents would move in late 2010.

Campaigners are backing the project and have pledged to carry on fundraising. They appreciate St Felix is not the best place in which to deliver care for the visually-impaired but believe the service must be kept and say there is a shortage of specialist sheltered housing and the scheme will be the only development east of Birmingham providing specifically for visually-impaired people.

Do you support the project? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk