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Dahlia a fresh look at independent living in Ashford

Published: 29/11/2022
A living room with sofas and chairs in one of our lounges

Ashford Borough Council is moving away from traditional sheltered housing provision, giving older residents more choice, flexibility and variety of independent living options.

Ask people what sheltered housing means to them and you might get responses like: ““it’s a nursing home”, or even “it’s god’s waiting room”. Probe further and you might get “old people sat in chairs around the side of a communal lounge”, or “not somewhere I’d like to live”.  
Ashford Borough Council is shaking up these old-fashioned perceptions and has consulted with residents and staff on adopting a new model of housing provision for older folk. As a result, a new brand has been created that sums up this fresh approach to independent living in the 21st century – Dahlia, which stands for Desirable Affordable Housing Linking Independence (and) Age.  
“The Dahlia was chosen to symbolise our approach to independent living because we believe it represents inner strength, change and dignity,” explained Sharon Williams, Head of Housing at Ashford Borough Council.

Dahlia logo for Ashford Borough Council

Sharon said the catalyst for change has largely been Britain’s ageing population, which has driven a national focus on housing provision for this sector.

“Nowhere is this more evident than in the borough of Ashford, where in just two years’ time it is expected that nearly a quarter of all residents will be aged 65 or over. This means that we must prepare for the needs of that ageing population by ensuring they are in the right sized homes for their needs. 
“We run housing schemes across the borough and it started its review by asking residents for their opinion. This was well received – tea, cake and lots of constructive chat with a very positive vibe about what they wanted.  
“Our own experienced housing professionals were also consulted and the review covered all areas of the sheltered housing service, from support plans to lifelines and activities. The consultation helped to underline the fact that one size does not fit all and that we need to provide people with choice as well as flexibility,” added Sharon.
Cllr Bill Barrett, portfolio holder for housing, said: “The council is looking to offer a variety of living options, from community bungalows to independent communal living. Some will be in urban areas, while others will have more rural settings. All will be self-contained and provide comfortable, modern homes for affordable rent for older people. 

“We are preparing for the needs of an ageing population by building and remodelling accommodation for older people to live more independently in homes that are the right size for them. 
“This change of approach ties in with our multi-million pound modernisation plan for our old sheltered housing schemes. We are building and remodelling accommodation for older people so they can live more independently in homes that are the right size for their needs,” he added.

The first to be delivered – Farrow Court in South Ashford – is an enhanced independent living scheme which has won an armful of awards. Danemore in Tenterden provides rural communal living for 34 residents and hit the headlines last year when it was officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal. 

The exterior view of Danemore in Tenterden
An exterior look of Danemore in Tenterden 

East Stour Court and Berry Place (formerly known as The Poplars) are two exciting new schemes in the pipeline, all offering the choice and flexibility – while offering a lifetime home – which are the principles at the heart of the Dahlia initiative. Another, Oakleigh House, is expected to be submitted to planning as a formal application soon.

For more information visit the independent living schemes page on our website.