Neighbours have told how their dream moves to a plush new housing development have turned into a living nightmare – when unfinished houses were abandoned and trashed.
Homeowners were sold a new life in a quiet neighbourhood when they moved to Warbreck Gardens in North Shore up to six years ago.
But five houses just yards from their homes were left abandoned when developers Chelford Properties Ltd went into administration, and soon became a magnet for vandals, arsonists and thieves.
Each one of the empty homes has been trashed with windows broken, roof tiles smashed and the former site office left a burnt-out wreck by firebugs. Angry neighbours today said their homes have also come under attack from thugs – and demanded action to end their life living next to an eyesore.
One woman, who was too scared to give her name, said: “It started off as a nice area, it looked beautiful, but it’s been left to go to rack and ruin.
“We’ve been abandoned. There’s people on there every day and night, it’s not nice feeling scared in your own home.”
Kerry Steeden, 39, who has lived on the estate with husband Craig and their three teenage children for four years, said: “It was a lovely area when we moved here, a quiet private road but I wouldn’t feel safe if my girls were walking through it in the dark now.”
The families living on Coopers Way, North Shore, where 30 homes were completed by developers Chelford Properties Ltd, say they regularly call the police and cannot live freely on the estate knowing yobs are causing trouble and setting fires so close by.
Mother Aneta Bartoszewska, 32, said she won’t let her children play on the street unsupervised.
She said: “It’s dangerous, there have been containers on fire and it could have spread to affect our house.”
And some have even forked out hundreds of pounds on extra security to protect their properties.
Marcella Potter, 39, has paid £200 for CCTV to cover her home.
She said: “I fear for my safety, we’ve got CCTV because of the trouble.
“It should be better boarded and the houses just knocked down.”
But extra security is too late for Emma Healy whose home was broken into, while she was pregnant, by a man who had accessed the estate by cutting across the derelict site.
She said: “We were broken into and he went through all the baby stuff, it was horrible.
“The police caught him and he lives on the other side of Devonshire Road, he had cut across the site.”
Another nearby resident, whose Devonshire Road home overlooks the derelict site, said his home has been broken into as a result of the abandoned area.
He said: “Our house has been broken into three times by people coming in off that site. I’m worried for the property every day.”
He has now doubled the height of his back garden fence, up to 10 feet, in fear of trouble on the site, including bricks being thrown and fires being started, spreading to his property.
He added: “I see children throwing stones, people drinking on there and people setting fires. I’d like to see the site finished and secured.”
Ward councillor Ivan Taylor said he will now be taking up the issue of securing the site with the council.
He said: “There is the issue of the fences being blown down and unfinished properties creating problems for what is a nice estate.
“We have a responsibility to make sure properties are secure so we don’t get vandalism and squatters in them and we have to do whatever we can to protect people in the area.
“We will be treating this as a matter of urgency.”
Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard said he also hopes to see some progress for the properties and that contracts are being discussed for developers to take on the homes.
He said: “My attention was first drawn to this issue when the I drove past after the blue fence panels were blown down. I had also had residents contact me about anti-social behaviour occurring in the partially finished homes.
“I made enquiries with the council, developers and administrators. I was pleased to learn that the administrators are at a stage where contacts are being exchanged with new developers who will continue the building project.
“I am particularly pleased to read the business plan of Housing Ladder which will take over the development at Warbreck Gardens who have some ownership models which will allow working people on moderate incomes to eventually own their own home.
“I am aware that this has been an ongoing saga that has blighted residents’ lives.
“I am glad that we can now bring the good news that finally there is a light at the end and these developments will be finished providing local jobs, investment and homes.”
Julian Stott, working on behalf of Chelford Properties Limited, said: “We are doing everything within our powers to see the site sold and as part of that the development will recommence and the unfinished roads will be completed.”
The company is working with Blackpool Council to secure a new company to take over the site and continue the building work.
Mr Stott added: “We have worked closely with our security and insurance liaison teams and do what we can to maintain security with the limited financial resources that we have, we have put fences up but they keep being blown or knocked down.”
Coun Gillian Campbell, cabinet member for housing, said: “We have a great deal of sympathy with the problems some residents near to the site have faced following the liquidation of Chelford and we are doing everything we can to assist.
“We have been discussing the site with interested developers to try to ensure works are recommenced as soon as possible.
“At Warbreck Gardens we have agreed to support a Rent-to-Buy scheme which will help first time buyers to get a foot on the property ladder.
“We are optimistic the situation can be resolved soon and we expect works to start again on both sites in the near future.”
But the residents say they will only believe a redevelopment when they see it.
Mrs Steeden said: “We’ve been hearing ‘imminently’ for months, and seeing different developers, but then nobody ever comes back. Nobody will take responsibility for it.”