A PETITION signed by 1100 people is pleading to ensure elderly residents at risk of losing their homes can remain in the village despite redevelopment.

The plea has been put to West Berkshire Council by residents of Windmill Court in Mortimer.

Windmill Court is a retirement housing complex of 34 homes for the over 55s, provided by Sovereign Housing Association and made up of a range of flats, bedsits and houses.

“In April the association proposed to demolish and rebuild the site to create 24 new family homes of which 15 would be affordable housing,” said Nicholas Mortimer, a Stratfield and Mortimer parish councillor.

“In its proposal it said the current facility needed refurbishment and isn’t viable as there were unfilled vacancies and that there is a demand for a different type of home for the elderly.

“The residents claim the vacancies only exist because of the pandemic and poor advertising and they wish to remain there. Or at least in the village.”

Sovereign informed the residents they must find alternative accommodation by early next year.

“The neighbourhood plan says it should be possible for people to live the whole of their lives out in the village if they so wish,” he added.

“There are no alternatives in the village, and most of the residents wish to remain there.”

He said residents had attended a parish council meeting to see if a petition would help their cause.

Covenants and restrictions are in place to prevent the redevelopment of the site, he said.

He said he had expected Sovereign to ask the council to lift those restrictions at the meeting.

“In the absence of that request, we ask the council to support the residents to allow them to remain in their properties until like for like accommodation becomes available in Mortimer and invite community representation if and when Sovereign makes the request to life the restrictions on Windmill Court,” he added.

Danusia Morsley – another parish councillor – on behalf of Rebecca Walker the other organiser of the petition said: “The village wants the current residents to stay in the village but also that we have provision of affordable housing for the elderly going forward.”

She said the new scheme for family homes didn’t accommodate for single elderly people.

The council said it would process the petition accordingly, and would respond in due course.