Time drags on for stressed families who are told it will be another six months before their homes are ready at Gaul Road in March

Simon Clark, Operations Director for Sanctuary at a meeting for Sanctuary residents at March Communi

Simon Clark, Operations Director for Sanctuary at a meeting for Sanctuary residents at March Community Centre. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Stressed families hugged each other and cried after a meeting in which they were told their homes would not be ready until March next year - 14 months later than promised.

Tina Thompson at a meeting for Sanctuary residents at March Community Centre. Picture: Steve William

Tina Thompson at a meeting for Sanctuary residents at March Community Centre. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Many are living on borrowed time with favours from family and friends, some couples have been forced to live in separate homes, others in tiny box rooms with parents while they wait for the Gaul Road estate to be completed by Sanctuary Housing.

For the first time in its 40 year history Sanctuary says it has had to step in and take over the management of a site due to deadlines not being met - the homes should have been ready for January 2014.

The most crucial missing element holding up the scheme, they say, are two site access roads along with footpaths over an existing ditch, all yet to be built.

Simon Clark, Sanctuary group director for housing and support, said: “This is not something Sanctuary are proud of. We hold our hands up and say we have over promised and under delivered.

Sanctuary Housing, in Gaul Road. Picture: Steve Williams.

Sanctuary Housing, in Gaul Road. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant


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“There are 12 sub contractors on site, most local. We are happy we are paying them and they are happy to keep working with us.

“We took over the management of sub-contractors three weeks ago, and since then have been working to agree terms to ensure delivery of these much needed homes.

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“We have also been determining what’s outstanding and any issues or approvals that may be required, and using this information to draw up a realistic construction programme.

“We are securing the key parties needed to finish this project. They are all aware of the urgency.

“We have also put our own construction manager on site to oversee the works and will be bringing in our own tradespeople to work alongside the contractors.”

Contractors are laying sewage pipes along Gaul Road to connect the site. Road closures in place from September 14 to October 2.

Mr Clark said: “The homes are 70 per cent finished, just three don’t have roofs, but most work is done.”

Joining the meeting were Councillor Kit Owen, Mayor Cllr Rob Skoulding and Cllr Jan French who told Sanctuary: “You’re causing absolute mayhem.”

Tina Thompson, who has led a residents action campaign, said: “This is not acceptable. Families are being torn apart by this.”

Resident Nikki Simpson added: “I’m gutted. I hoped for better news than this, but what can we do other than wait.”

With around 100,000 homes in England and Scotland, Sanctuary Housing is one of the UK’s leading social landlords.

Four open days are being held for residents to visit their future homes in October on Tuesday 6, Thursday 8, Monday 12 and Wednesday 14.

In the meantime, Tracey Spencer, head of operations eastern region, said she was working with Fenland District Council, social housing landlords and private landlords to find temporary properties for families with the most desperate need.

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