Residents describe forgotten flats of Rainham’s Mardyke as ‘a hell hole’
07:00 15 April 2016
Hayley Anderson (Romford Recorder)
Napier and New Plymouth house tower blocks
Hundreds of residents are pleading for two dilapidated blocks of flats, left from the Mardyke Estate, to be either renovated or demolished.
My visit to Napier House
I was invited by residents to visit Napier House and New Plymouth to see the condition the buildings are in.
The tower blocks had been described as “eyesores” to me on several occasions and, as I approached, I had to agree.
On closer inspection, the buildings looked dirty and deteriorating, with holes in the walls, old doors boarded up and rubbish scattered on the floor.
The inside of Napier House matched its exterior.
I felt uncomfortable when I walked into the dimly lit entrance, even though I knew the block was mostly home to young families.
Paint could be seen peeling off the walls and mould coated almost all of the windows.
One of the main concerns of the residents was the freezing cold temperature of the building. They were not exaggerating.
I started shivering as soon as I arrived, despite wearing a thick jumper and coat.
I wanted to leave the building as soon as possible.
In 2008, work on the multi-million pound Orchard Village began on the site of the Rainham estate – once infamous for high crime levels and poor living conditions – and this saw four of the six tower blocks knocked down.
Fast forward eight years and Napier House and New Plymouth, Dunedin Road, still remain.
Mum-of-two Donna Bristow, 28, who lives in Napier House, set up a petition with her partner Ismajl Haziraj, outlining the residents’ ultimatum.
More than 400 people have signed it so far.
She said: “We are the forgotten flats of the Mardyke Estate.
“These conditions are not good enough for dogs, let alone human beings.
“I’ve told my son that he shouldn’t bring his friends home, because I’m ashamed of where we live. It is a hell hole.”
Cllr Graham Williamson, Donna Bristow, Ismajl Haziraj with baby Eliot, Jacqueline Pidgeon and Cllr Keith Roberts outside the tower blocksCllr Graham Williamson, Donna Bristow, Ismajl Haziraj with baby Eliot, Jacqueline Pidgeon and Cllr Keith Roberts outside the tower blocks
During a visit to the towers, Recorder reporter Hayley Anderson was told stories of pensioners wearing hats and scarves to sleep in the single-glazed flats and mothers dragging prams up flights of stairs because of concerns about faulty lifts.
The Mardyke Estate was built in the 1960s to house Ford workers but, after years of complaints, Havering Council allowed contractor Circle Housing to take over the site and turn it into Orchard Village.
At the start of the project, plans were drawn up for Napier House and New Plymouth to be demolished this year, but the residents remain. Neil Stubbings, Havering Council’s head of homes and housing, said proposals to renovate the two blocks have been considered previously, but that government funding has been seriously reduced since that time.
He added that increasing pressure on the issue of affordable housing has prompted a review on housing expenditure.
“Under these circumstances, it was only right that a hold was placed on committing any new expenses, which was done across all investment and new build plans throughout the borough,” said Mr Stubbings.
“We are now getting close to completing the review of expenditure and therefore expect to be able to update the Napier and New Plymouth residents very soon. We sincerely apologise for any uncertainty that this has caused.”
Independent Residents’ Group councillors Cllr Graham Williamson and Cllr Keith Roberts are working with residents to get their voices heard.
Entrance of Napier House.
Cllr Roberts said: “These buildings are past their sell-by date and they are falling apart.
“It is completely unacceptable that young families are being left to live in these conditions.
The Romford Useless have run the story yet its no longer our marvellous councils responsibility.
If it still fell in the Fortress of Dooms domain would they be so keen to highlight the plight of these folk?
Not so me thinks.
I haven't been past the Mardyke estate for years, but I used to work nearby so I knew it well.
I didn't realise that two of the blocks were left standing, and although the new builds have suffered a catalogue of problems I can understand that the residents in the dilapidated old blocks must feel like the 'poor relations'.
I wonder why two blocks were left standing, when the council had already realised that these places were not fit for human habitation?
I suppose now, in the 'age of austerity' the tenants will be lucky if they see any change in the next twenty years. In my opinion, they should never have been 'thrown up' in the first place, they quickly became an eyesore, and they are not suitable for families with young children nor for that matter, the elderly or infirm.