A FORMER care home brought back into active use during the coronavirus crisis is to be sold off and turned into homes.

Popham Court in Wellington closed its doors in November 2018, but was temporarily reopened by Somerset County Council in April 2020 to free up beds in the county’s acute hospitals.

The council – which has owned the building since February 2019 – has now confirmed it intends to sell the complex to a developer, to provide at least 25 new homes.

However, the developer may not take purchase of the care home until March 2021 – in case the facility is required during any ‘second wave’ of the ongoing pandemic.

Charlie Field, the council’s strategic manager for estates and corporate property, confirmed the intended sale in a report published on the council’s website.

He said: “The premises have been extensively marketed with reasonable interest.

“It is therefore requested that the best offer received should be accepted and the sale concluded. Contracts are now pretty much in an agreed form between the parties.

“The proposed sale to a housing developer will see the provision of not less than 25 dwellings, subject to planning approval.”

READ MORE: Former care home to be brought back into use during coronavirus pandemic

Neither the identity of the developer or the offer it has made for Popham Court has yet been published due to commercial sensitivity.

Mr Field said that retaining the buildings would “place an economic burden on the council” due to the level of maintenance needed to keep them in working order.

However, he said the developer may not take ownership until March 2021 at the earliest, so the facility could be used if a second wave of Covid-19 hits Somerset.

He said: “The premises were prepared as part of the Covid-19 response, as a potential site for care facilities.

“The site remains available should they be required if further spikes in the locality require it.

“To this end, we have agreed with the purchaser that completion could be delayed until March 2021 should we require.”

After its original closure, Popham Court came to the attention to AdHoc Property Management, a company based in London which takes on empty properties on behalf of their private owners and regenerates them by turning them into temporary affordable housing.

Up to 25 “property guardians” – including people on low incomes and contractors – lived in the building at any one time until the council stepped in, living on rolling 28-day agreements and maintaining the property.

Chris Squire, the council’s director of human resources and organisational development, tweeted on April 2 that all guardians had been successfully relocated.