'It's an eyesore': Residents slam council for neglecting estate

Published: 19 May 2012 08:003 comments

ANGRY neighbours say they have been forgotten in the rush to complete the multi-million pound revamp of a run down estate.

Forgotten: Dee Park resident Neil Duke says the estate has been "neglected"

They have been left to face derelict flats, smashed windows, abandoned garages with doors hanging from their hinges and unkempt gardens piled high with broken fencing, while Reading council bosses lavish attention on the Dee Park redevelopment.

The rundown roads and empty blocks of flats ready for demolition have become a dangerous playground for children since tenants were moved out in January ahead of the next phase of the regeneration project.

Neil Duke, who has lived on the Tilehurst estate for 15 years, is furious about the state of Spey Road, Thurso Close and Orrin Close, and the 46-year-old said: "The council have left it in such a state that all we get is grief now.

"The kids get into the empty flats, trash them, smash windows and they even started a fire in one of the Spey Road flats. It's a real danger.

"Residents are sick of hearing how the council has planted another tree here or opened an old people's home there. What about this side of the estate? It's just been neglected."

The £150m project began in 2010 and has been led by Dee Park Partnership (DPP), a joint venture between Wilmott Dixon and Catalyst Housing, in partnership with Reading Borough Council. It will transform the estate with 763 new homes, a primary school, community centre and shops.

But Stacey Smith, from community group Pride of Dee Park, who has lived in Spey Road for a year, said: "The area is an eyesore at the moment, which encourages vandalism because it's difficult to be proud of where you live when it looks like that."

Reading Borough Council has removed copper piping from the flats to deter thieves and boarded up ground floor windows, but council leader Cllr Jo Lovelock, who chairs the Dee Park Board, admitted the handover between the council and developers has been too slow.

She promised work will begin on the site at the end of the month, and said: "There have been some complications in the time between getting the people moved out and demolition starting, and I am talking with officers about how this could be speeded up in the future.

"Officers have to find a balance between the money spent and making the area safe, and I don't think that balance has been quite right this time."

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