‘They’ve allowed it to fall into disrepair’: Council estate residents wait 20 years for repairs

BY ROBERT FIRTH Local Democracy Reporter

Residents on an estate threatened with demolition for almost a decade say they’ve been waiting for their homes to be repaired for 20 years.

One person claimed Lambeth council only fixed a window broken by a football in 2002 last week.

Lambeth revealed it wanted to rebuild the crumbling Central Hill Estate in Gipsy Hill in 2014, but most of it is still standing.

It says the plans will create up to 750 new homes for the area and improve the quality of council properties. Pauline Porteous-Harley has lived on Central Hill for 23 years. She once thought the estate could be refurbished but believes it has been left to decline for so long it now needs rebuilding.

Central Hill resident Pauline Porteous-Harley said the estate had been left to decline for so long it now needed rebuilding Picture: Pauline Porteous-Harley

The 66-year-old said: “I think it’s a good idea. If we want to bore holes in the wall we have to consult Lambeth because of the asbestos in the walls. The trees are blocking the drainage system so we have a stench.

“The damp is so bad I’ve stopped changing my curtains. It’s in almost every room of the house. A child smashed the window with a football in 2002 and it was only fixed last week. I stopped bothering to report problems to the council. It would have been possible to refurbish the estate in 2000 maybe, but not now.”

But Helen van Hoogstraten, 42, said it would have cost less to maintain Central Hill but said Lambeth had let it deteriorate.

She said: “It would be cheaper to refurbish and maintain the properties as they are nice and spacious inside and there’s lots of greenery around. They’ve allowed it to fall into disrepair.”

Lambeth said refurbishing the estate would cost too much and that it is already short of more than £85million needed to modernise council homes in the borough.

But critics of demolition believe the council has deliberately let the estate fall into disrepair to justify the need to rebuild it. Housing campaigner Pete Elliot said the council had made residents’ lives a nightmare.

He said: “The council has actively made things impossible for residents to have a normal life and this has resulted in health issues for residents.

“Leaseholders own blighted homes that they can’t sell or re-mortgage, as banks won’t give a mortgage on them. Tenants are not getting repairs done to their homes and the council has failed in its role as landlord in keeping the homes safe and healthy.”

Lambeth council said cuts to Government funding to maintain homes had forced it to regenerate estates in the borough.

The local authority said: “The only solution to homelessness is to build more homes. That’s why we’ve set up Homes for Lambeth (HfL): to build more council homes for local families.

“Across the borough, families are already moving into new homes that HfL has built, including on other estate regeneration schemes where families have already been rehoused.”




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