PLANS have been revealed to build 30 new homes for the elderly in Winchester city centre.

The proposals, submitted by charity St John’s Winchester Charity, will see the new almshouses providing care for elderly residents in the city centre, if approved.

Fourteen homes would be built in Colebrook Street for rent, while a further 16 would be developed in Chesil Street, following the demolition of the current terraced houses next to the Chesil Theatre.

They would feature level access, wet rooms and other features designed to support older people in independent living. There would also be green roofs, roof terraces, open access galleries and secure landscaping designed to support community life.

The charity, which provides support for elderly residents struggling financially, is also refurbishing 20 of its existing almshouses in the city, nine of which have been completed.

The Colebrook Street site is directly adjacent to St John’s’ existing Southside almshouses. The second site on Chesil Street will be based next to the Chesil Theatre and backs onto the River Itchen.

A spokeswoman for St John’s says it intends to link to the existing community by a new footbridge over the River Itchen for the use of St John’s welfare staff and residents. It will re-use a previous site of a bridge disused for many years.

The spokeswoman added: “Discussions are ongoing with the Winchester Dramatic Society regarding the sale of land on the site to build an annexe to the existing theatre.

“The two developments will represent a significant renewal of St John’s’ almshouse accommodation.”

If the plans are approved, construction is expected to begin in the late summer/ early autumn, with the project being funded through the charity’s own finances.

Peter Gubb, a retired property fund manager who has recently joined the St John’s board of trustees, said: “The developments represent a rare opportunity to build adapted and affordable accommodation in beautiful locations in the city centre to support older people of limited means.”

Martin Lowry, the charity’s acting chairman, added: “Our goal is to enhance and future proof our community, and these new almshouses will be fully integrated benefitting from our unique welfare provision and existing community facilities.”

St John’s Winchester provides care and support to residents who want to live independently. A team of seven nurses and carers provide support 24/7 to residents, who receive a call every day and at least one visit a week.

There is also a ‘wellness clinic’ that provides proactive care, support and advice.

The St John’s almshouse community is in line with a tried-and-tested model for maintaining wellbeing and independence for older people. Research undertaken by the Cass Business School in conjunction with a large Surrey almshouse community, Whiteley Village, establishes a clear link over a 100 year period between living in a functional almshouse community and increased longevity, particularly for women.