‘Enough is enough’, says councillor

The unfinished properties in Warbreck Gardens
The unfinished properties in Warbreck Gardens
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A North Shore building site dubbed a ‘vandal’s playground’ is wreaking havoc - three years after it was abandoned.

Five unfinished houses in Warbreck Gardens in North Shore fell into disrepair and became major targets for vandals when the site’s developers, Chelford Properties Ltd, went into administration in 2012.

Claremont councillor Ivan Taylor

Claremont councillor Ivan Taylor

Residents were hopeful when new company Housing Ladder took over the project with the promise that Warbreck Gardens would soon be a top-notch housing estate.

But more than three years on from when the project was first abandoned, the building site on Coopers Way remains a derelict wasteland, with unfinished houses still bearing smashed roof tiles, broken windows, and graffiti on the walls.

Now councillors say enough is enough - and that land owners could face disciplinary action if they do not do something about the empty houses which, residents say, are attracting vandals and squatters to the area.

Claremont councillor Ivan Taylor said: “The council doesn’t own the land so we can’t directly force the owners to clean it up or complete the housing development but we do have the power to bring in a community protection notice on the basis that they are the owners of a public nuisance.

I’ve had hundreds of complaints from residents about it over the years

Ivan Taylor

“I’ve had hundreds of complaints from residents about it over the years.

“They buy a nice house and when they go out they are looking over a fence onto a building site with nobody working on it and all the buildings in it are in a very bad state.

“It’s a real mess. People can easily get into the houses and anything that’s left empty like that is going to attract vandals.”

David Sleath, managing director at Housing Ladder, defended the amount of time the company was taking to address the site, adding that the problems were being caused by a local ‘lunatic fringe’ that they were not responsible for.

He said: “We absolutely have plans to continue development and we should be on site by the end of April next year.”

But Mr Taylor said: “It’s intolerable that all this time has passed and we have had to put up with it for so long.

“I hope that disciplinary action will not be necessary. But it can’t stay like this forever. We’ve got to do something to bring the area into a more acceptable state.”

A Cooper’s Way resident was did not want to be named said: “The houses that you can see from Devonshire Road have windows smashed and roof tiles coming off and they just look derelict and a mess. It looks horrendous.

“It’s been that way for years. Now we have had letters saying the council is finally going to get it sorted.”

Paul Maynard, Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP, said: “I welcome any steps the council makes towards improving the site.

“The site needs to be secured and CCTV installed and criminal behaviour stamped out. The broken-down houses must be demolished as they are attracting vandals.

“This has been going on for about three years now so the more we can pressure everybody involved the better.”

Hr Sleath said: “We have done absolutely nothing wrong. We properly set up the site and have been working very hard to secure funding in a difficult industry for a unique new model which will be run for the first time in the UK from Blackpool.

“We are sympathetic to neighbours who are living next to a lunatic fringe who think it is funny to cause trouble.”