Residents demand action over Chichester’s crumbling eyesore

Anger is growing in a Chichester community over a two-and-a-half acre crumbling eyesore in its midst.

One resident condemned it this week as a ‘ghastly blight.’

People were moved out of the former Heritage sheltered housing development, in Winden Avenue, around four years ago.

Since then, the 50-plus homes have stood empty and decaying, surrounded by tottering hoardings, overgrown shrubs and masses of nettles.

Squatters – and rats – moved in at one stage, although security guards have since been mounted round the clock.

Hyde Martlet is planning a multi-million pound project for the site – 56 ‘affordable’ homes for over-50s, and 36 for sale on the open market – but the scheme has run into ever-lengthening delays.

Whyke residents

A statement issued to the Observer by Whyke Residents’ Association following a discussion at its latest meeting said the neglect and dereliction of the site had been detrimental to the well-being of the local community.

There were serious issues of health and safety all the while no progress took place.

Local residents were looking for:

Honesty from Hyde Martlet – ie would it really begin to rebuild by the end of 2012?

If not, could it guarantee to at least demolish by the end of 2012?

Once demolition was complete, it must agree to erect far more acceptable and aesthetically appropriate screening at the end of Winden Avenue which would last in the long term.

“It is worth noting that what were 53 perfectly acceptable and comfortable apartments have been allowed to languish over five years when 7,300 people in the Chichester district were on the housing waiting list in September, 2010,” the statement added.

“It will be coming up to the fifth year after 80 vulnerable elderly people were moved out against their wishes with a promise, if they desired, of returning within up to two years of the Heritage rebuild.”

Shambles

Winden Avenue residents spoke out strongly this week. “The whole process is a complete and utter shambles,” said Sue Walters.

Her concern was that Hyde Martlet was not connecting with local people as it said it would.

“The buildings should be demolished now, and kept tidy,” she declared. “It is becoming a total eyesore.”

Richard Tildesley, who lives with his wife in a house just yards from the site, said the past five years had been a ‘soul-destroying experience’.

“Leaving aside the issues of bats, rats and squatters, and fights and drug deals taking place by my front garden, to have to live cheek by jowl with such an eyesore year after year is immensely difficult,” he added.

“It is impossible to look out of any of our windows or enjoy time in the garden, which means so much to me personally, without being aware of this ghastly blight.

“To cap it all, there appears to be no end to this awful situation.”

Hyde Martlet did not respond to the Observer’s request for a comment.