One bedroom flats in a tower block designed for use as retirement accommodation are being used to house families with as many as four children crammed in to the only bedroom while their parents are forced to sleep in the living room.
The 11-storey high rise with 66 flats in Gillett Road is still listed as sheltered housing but now is home to at least 60 children and their parents. Worse still, many of these so called ‘ temporary’ residents have lived there for three years but because they are not permanent tenants are not allowed to use the facilities.
The garden, communal room and laundry facilities are all out of bounds to them even though there is no room in their own kitchen to put a washing machine safely.
Despite some being told to expect to live in these conditions for a further eight years, the segregation also extends to posters, apparently erected by a disgruntled resident in the entrance area declaring: ‘No Families.’
Adding to this is the now common problem of the communal door to the block being repeatedly broken, exposing the building to rodents, drug abuse and anti-social behaviour.
The decision by Croydon Council in 2013 to recategorise the block was opposed by elderly residents who were rightly upset that their retirement community was being dismantled to address a housing shortage and save money on costly B and Bs.
During this time MP Steve Reed, said the council had “got it wrong from both angles”.
His main concern was how were families going to fit in to a one bedroom flat?
The Chronicle has recently been exposing inadequate housing provision and asking the council to put together a case for Article 4 to withdraw permitted development rights which would give planners greater powers over Houses of Multiple Occupancy.
The scandal around housing is a national issue but homelessness is growing, particularly locally as shown by information to the Chronicle that a number of people are forced to sleep in cars around the High Street in addition to the visible increase in rough sleepers.
Meanwhile, Croydon Council is housing more people in converted office blocks like Sycamore House on London Road and yet another application has been submitted to convert the basement and ground floor of a neighbouring block on London Road owned by Beta Circle Ltd. Some of these spaces are just 30 -31sqm, making them little more than studio flats.