Residents in a dilapidated estate in east Greenwich say they have been abandoned by the council – and have given up reporting flytipping because the town hall never responds.
The Woodland Grove estate, just off Trafalgar Road, has been left in a poor condition for years, with even local Labour councillors criticising the state of the blocks.
Residents were promised seven years ago that improvement work would take place, but nothing has happened since. Some say they are embarrassed to have friends and family visit because of the rubbish dumped outside.
Rachel Turner, 31, said she had given up on reporting flytipping to Greenwich Council after raising the problem two years ago.
She said: “When I come home from work, there’s mattresses and tables here. It’s frustrating because it’s right where I live and I don’t like having friends around. The first thing they see is a bunch of rubbish. We’ve had mattresses, chairs, toilets, cupboards, wardrobes.
“It’s really frustrating because you want it to be presentable. When you have people come into your apartment, you make your apartment all nice and tidy, but then on the outside, it’s just rubbish here. That doesn’t look nice at all. You want to make it a bit more presentable, you’re paying a fortune to live here.”
Turner said the chipped wooden panels on the outside of the estate had become so “gross” that her partner said he would paint them himself if he was given the tools.
She said residents on the estate feel like they had been “dumped and left” by the council as it focuses on other housing projects. New council homes are being built on the site of Sam Manners House, an old sheltered housing block, further along Woodland Grove.
Abiodun Oliagbe, 69, who has lived on the estate with his family for four years, said his flat leaks whenever it rains, which has caused mould to grow in his bedroom.
He said: “We have reported it to the council but they have not done anything about it. Water is coming in. We have tried to contact them but nothing has been done really. It is not good for our health.”
Oliagbe said the council was also meant to cover several exposed pipes in his flat from when the boiler was replaced last year – but the work had not been done. “The council are just dilly dallying, there’s nothing being done,” he said.
Dawn Brown, 54, said she had noticed problems when she first moved in nearly four years ago. Several bricks from the outside wall of a flat above hers fell at her feet while she was sitting in the garden last year, she said.
She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I was sitting down there and they all came down and the council have done nothing. I felt scared because now you just have to keep watching when you come out just to make sure nothing else comes down.”
Brown said she had to clear the rubble from the bricks herself. She has also been waiting six months for new worktops to be added to her flat, and was told by the council that she had to fix her own bathroom door.
She said: “It’s not my flat, it’s theirs. I pay just to rent it, not do their repairs. They just don’t do anything anymore. I can’t afford to pay out to do it myself. I don’t know what we pay rent for to be honest.”
Dawn Brown, 54, said she had noticed problems in the estate from when she first moved in nearly four years. She said at the end of last year, several bricks from the outside wall of a flat several storeys above her fell at her feet while she was sitting in the garden.
She told the LDRS: “All of them came down. I was sitting down there and they all came down and [the council] have done nothing. I heard them when they hit the floor. [I felt] scared because now you just have to keep watching when you come out just to make sure nothing else comes down and the council haven’t done anything about it.”
Brown said she had to clear the rubble from the bricks herself. She said she has also been waiting six months for new worktops to be added to her flat, and was told by the council that she had to fix her own bathroom door.
She said: “It’s not my flat, it’s theirs. I pay just to rent it, not do their repairs. They just don’t do anything anymore. I don’t know what we pay rent for to be honest.”
Local East Greenwich councillor Majid Rahman raised the plight of Woodland Grove residents last December, saying that residents had been told in 2016 that their block was on a five-year plan for upgrades and refurbishment.
Pat Slattery, the cabinet member for housing, said that a tender was about to be put out for works, and admitted that “it must be galling” to live in such poorly-maintained blocks when new homes were going up alongside.
Dale Millikan, 35, bought a flat facing the Woodland Grove estate last month. He said someone had told him he was buying in the “ugliest street in Greenwich”.
He said: “I feel for these guys, it’s their home. It doesn’t look overly safe for anyone, and there’s kids that live in there too. I just think it’s a bit of a disgrace, because the new council homes are getting built, and these guys have been left out in the cold.”
A spokesperson said that Greenwich Council was “committed to tackling flytipping” and had removed 25 fly tips from the area in the past eight months, as well as fining a local business £400 for the crime last summer.
The spokesperson added: “Renovation work at the Woodland Grove estate is expected to start in this financial year. We plan to improve external parts of the block, including some concrete repairs and replacement of the timber railings. We’re arranging a meeting with residents in October to discuss the planned works and get their views.
“In the meantime, our repairs team will be addressing the other issues highlighted. We’re in the process of contacting the residents who have flagged issues, to discuss their repairs.”
“Our parks team is arranging for the grass to be cut as soon as possible and maintained in future. We’re introducing a new performance work programme that will prevent the site being missed again.”
Story updated at 11.15pm on Friday to include Greenwich Council comment. Additional reporting and editing by Darryl Chamberlain.
Joe Coughlan is the Local Democracy Reporter for Greenwich, based at MyLondon. The Local Democracy Reporting Service is a BBC-funded scheme to help boost coverage of councils in the local media.