March Gaul Road development will not be finished for months, Sanctuary tells disgruntled tenants

PUBLISHED: 16:33 16 August 2015 | UPDATED: 16:33 16 August 2015

Residents met Sanctuary Housing directors at a public meeting held at March Community Centre.

Residents met Sanctuary Housing directors at a public meeting held at March Community Centre.

Archant

Families have been told it will be "months rather than weeks" before their homes, which were due to be finished in January, will be ready.

Residents met Sanctuary Housing directors at a public meeting held at March Community Centre.Residents met Sanctuary Housing directors at a public meeting held at March Community Centre.

About 40 tenants quizzed Sanctuary Housing chiefs at a public meeting today at March Community Centre, which they hoped would clear up when they would be able to move into the 52-home Gaul Road development.

But, instead of receiving a moving-in date, the families, many of whom have been forced to live out of suitcases, some cramped into the rooms of relatives and friends, were given no guarantee the development will be finished before Christmas.

Simon Clark, Sanctuary group director of housing and supplies, said: “It’s an unacceptable situation. We want the homes to be built as much as you want to move in.

“But, at this moment, I can’t give you a date. We’ve been doing that for the past seven months. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll be able to give you much more certainty and we’ll have a clear idea of whether it will be before Christmas.”

Sanctuary Housing, Tenants for new housing turn up on site in Gaul road. Picture: Steve Williams.Sanctuary Housing, Tenants for new housing turn up on site in Gaul road. Picture: Steve Williams.

After delays due to paperwork problems, Sanctuary have finally got permission from Middle Level Drainage for their drainage plans and are awaiting Anglian Water approval.

While developers Langwith Construction will remain in place, Sanctuary, in an unprecedented move, will take direct control over the project’s sub-contractors to instil a sense of “urgency” into the project.

Sanctuary representatives were grilled by Councillors Jan French and Kit Owen about the drainage situation and why Sanctuary had been so slow to get to grips with the faltering development.

In response, Mr Clark admitted “we were over-optimistic and thought the problems would be overcome”. He went on to say “we should have had this public meeting sooner”.

Tina Thompson, spokesman for the tenants, said she had been pushing for a public meeting, with no success, for many months.

She said: “We’ve had so many apologies, they don’t work with us anymore. It’s your fault these families are in this position.”

SOME OF THE FAMILIES AFFECTED:

Jodie Humphreys, 21, is living with her mum Mary at Riverdown with her one year old daughter.

“We all feel stuck. I can’t bid for another house because if I do I then lose the chance of this one in case it comes up. We all need our own space now.”

Ursula Hayden, 39, is living with her two daughters at Burcroft Road in Wisbech.

“I was told before Christmas that we could move in January. The dates keep changing. Everything including our beds is packed ready to move. The stress is horrible.”

Nikki Simpson, 42, is living with her sister and her family until she can move with her four year old son.

“I’m paying £104 a month to keep my belongings in storage. We can’t bid on any other homes, it is a catch 22 and nobody at Sanctuary cares.”

Hayley Massey, 29, is living in a flat with her nine year old daughter and two year old son.

“I’m lucky as my landlord let me stay on despite handing in my notice ready to move. I’ve been packed since January.”

Kay Payne, 33, is living in a Roddons home with her 10 year old daughter and eight year old son who have to share a bedroom.

“It is only a two bedroom property and the children now need to be in separate bedrooms. I’m lucky as at least I still have my own roof over my head. A lot had to move out after handing in notice to private landlords. I feel so sorry for them.”

Tina Thompson has her daughter Sian Bond and boyfriend Andrew Rilley living in a box room at her New Road home along with their five-year-old daughter and baby.

She said: “It is stressful for all of us. They are cramped into one room. It is putting us all under massive pressure.”

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