Lanarkshire residents’ frustration over retirement housing renovation


Residents at a Coatbridge retirement housing complex say they are enduring disruption and stressful conditions as a £1.9m renovation project is carried out in and around their homes.

New sprinklers, fire doors and interlinked alarms are being fitted in each property at Dundyvan Gardens, with the elderly tenants being decanted out of their houses to empty properties elsewhere in the complex for months at a time while the work is carried out.

The communal lounge at the facility is also being extended and work done in the gardens – with frustrated neighbors telling how they are struggling to live with the “day in, day out” noise and disturbance.

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Dundyvan Gardens resident Janette Kelly, 82, is now in her fourth month of living in a decant property elsewhere in the complex while the new installations take place at her home of more than 21 years.

She told Lanarkshire Live: “It’s a total nightmare; I was told at the beginning that I’d be out for 12 weeks but the work is going on and on and the decant period has got longer with each group who’ve been out.

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“We were also told the sitting room would open in the new year but it’s still a building site; the delays are being blamed on things like Brexit and getting the materials.

Mary Wilkie shows the building work taking place outside her home in the retirement complex
Mary Wilkie shows the building work taking place outside her home in the retirement complex

“I want to let people know what we’re going through with all the disturbance and the place looking like a bombsite as it’s really upsetting; none of us have good health and residents aren’t coping with the upheaval.”

Mary Wilkie was one of the first residents to be decanted last summer, with an expected six-week move actually lasting for 12; and since moving back home, she has been living for nearly six months right besides major building work.

The lounge extension is being constructed close to her living-room window and her outside access has several areas which have been dug up, with pipework being exposed.

She told us: “The work starts at 7.30am every day and the house is reverberating with the noise and drilling going on. Everything has been dug up and the barriers around it only went up when my family asked for them to be put there to make it safer.

“The decant period was fine, but getting moved back in was a nightmare, trying to find my things and empty boxes; the whole situation is really affecting me and the other neighbors as it’s so stressful and we just don’t need all this at our stage of life.”

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Residents have also told of issues following their decant including items being mislaid, heating issues and weeks of difficulty in trying to reclaim rent and council tax rebates for those who moved out entirely during work on their homes.

Sarah Gillon, 87, said: “It’s been a nightmare. People have even asked if I’d think about moving. But why should I move from my home after all these years?”

Neighbor Anne Finnigan added: “There have been so many things I’ve needed sorted out with snagging and bills but nobody is doing anything about it. We want to show what’s happening and it’s too much for this age group.”

Officials from North Lanarkshire Council say the work in each flat is essential to meet fire regulations, and that delays affecting the decant times have been caused by availability of supplies and COVID.

They add that residents are due to have a communal space available by the end of the month and that the project, which was scheduled from the outset to last until May this year, “will deliver a fabulous environment for residents to enjoy with their families and friends”.

Investment manager Cameron Barr said: “We do appreciate these are extensive works which may cause some inconvenience, but we are doing everything we can, together with our contractor, to carry out the works with our residents in mind.

“Every flat within the complex is being upgraded with a sprinkler system; smoke, heat and CO2 detectors are being upgraded to meet new regulations and we’re replacing all fire doors.

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“The works include new common room areas, landscaped garden facilities and dementia-friendly measures, all of which will positively impact on the residents and their surroundings.”

He continued: “There have been delays, which have been experienced in every sector across Scotland, due to COVID.

“The pandemic and the restrictions have impacted on the delivery of supplies and have resulted in staff shortages and absences.

“All staff going into the complex take COVID tests on a daily basis to protect the residents and follow all government guidance.

“A common room facility is expected to be available for residents at the end of February which will allow them to enjoy catch-ups again, which were not possible due to COVID.

“Monthly meetings are held with residents to discuss progress and answer any questions they may have.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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