Sussex

Calls to remove Chichester housing 'eyesore'

An empty house in Winden Avenue
Image caption Residents say the site has been infested by rats

People in Chichester are urging a housing association to demolish more than 50 derelict homes on a site they call the city's biggest eyesore.

They say the former Heritage sheltered accommodation in Winden Avenue has been plagued by squatters, drug users and rat infestations in recent years.

The two-and-a-half-acre site has stood empty and overgrown for four years.

The site's owner, Hyde Martlet, said demolition would start "shortly" and 92 new homes would be built.

The housing association agreed there had been some problems, but said it addressed them "as soon as they occurred".

Squatters

Resident Chris North said people living in the Heritage complex were moved out five years ago and told they could move back within two years when it had been rebuilt.

He said there had been broken promise after broken promise from the association on when work on the new development would start.

"It's truly a terrible eyesore, and I think the tragedy is that five years ago this October it was still a living community, a very close-knit community here in Winden Avenue," he said.

He said once the residents were moved out, the site began to rot and become overgrown with smashed windows and boarded-up doors.

"It's not only the look as it is now, but the fact we've had squatters and I understand people using drugs inside," he said.

"We have a rat infestation and it was only in May this year that Hyde Martlet put in some 24-hour guards and security."

Hyde Martlet said it was fully committed to the new development and had been working to resolve planning and environmental issues out of its control, which had held it up.

A Chichester District Council spokesperson said it was confident people would see work on the site in the next few weeks.

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