NORTHUMBERLAND County Council has stepped in to save a sheltered housing scheme from closure.

The authority purchased Arnison Close in Allendale after Anchor Housing said it would have to close the building if a suitable buyer was not found.

But the council stepped in, officially acquiring the building on August 31 at a meeting involving the council’s cabinet, local members and residents.

The future of Arnison Close was first thrown into doubt in March last year, when Anchor Housing launched a review into the services provided there, and confirmed it was considering the possibility of transferring the building to another provider.

Coun. John Riddle, cabinet member for housing, said: “Providing and maintaining housing in rural areas is a key priority for this council. The acquisition of Arnison Close is a perfect example of where the council can step in and safeguard the future of homes for local people.”

The purchase of the building, which consists of 14 flats, is in line with the council’s new extra care and supported housing strategy, which aims to deliver as much supported accommodation as is needed to provide the opportunity for independent living.

The flats have been added to the council’s housing management portfolio, and will be managed with the rest of its housing stock, along with nine other sheltered housing schemes.

Coun. Veronica Jones, cabinet member for adult wellbeing and health, added: “There continues to be an increase in the need for supported housing in rural areas, where people can remain in the communities where they grew up, or be close to family.

“Getting older should not be a barrier to living a full, independent life, with a choice of appropriately- designed, well-located accommodation.

“If the council had not taken over this valuable accommodation it would have closed and residents may have been forced to move out of the area.”

The council is already planning a programme of repairs and modernisation work on the building to safeguard its future.