A new £6.5m housing development for the over-55s in Chester-le-Street has welcomed a very special first resident though its doors – the former warden of a sheltered housing scheme which once stood on the same site.
Jean Laws spent 24 years working and living at Cestria Community Housing’s Lawson Court and, since its demolition in 2013, has been watching the development of the new scheme The Elms.
She was on hand for both the ground-breaking and topping out ceremonies, marking the start of work and the building reaching its highest point, and has now become the first resident to move into the development.
For 69-year-old Jean the move is something of a homecoming, although she admits the building, which includes a café, hairdressers and 24-hour care and support, is quite a contrast to her former home.
She said: “I had many happy years at Lawson Court, the residents were lovely and it was a very friendly community but it was getting very out-of-date, so although I was sad to see it go I was really excited to see what was going to take its place.
“I still can’t quite believe this is my home now.”
Since moving out of Lawson Court, Jean had been living across the road from The Elms at Cestria’s Gibb Court, where she was able to keep a close eye on the new scheme’s progress.
She said: “Moving into The Elms is like coming full circle for me. I’m really excited now to meet all my new neighbours and I think there will be a great community spirit here.”
The Elms consists of 52 apartments and six bungalows, for rent, sale and shared ownership, and is an assisted living scheme.