A disabled woman living in a Greenwich Council flat has been told to rely on volunteers to bring in food because her usual access route to her home has been cut off by contractors building new homes.
Louise Noyce lives in a block of flats in Charlton next door to where Meridian Home Start, a council spin-off company, is building 29 houses and eight flats on the site of an old sheltered accommodation block and garages.
The construction work cut off access to the flats from Fletching Road, a quiet street behind Charlton Village, apart from a narrow alleyway. The residents all have Fletching Road in their addresses.
This final remaining route to their road was blocked on Wednesday, with residents told that they would have to use a bin storage area on Charlton Church Lane to get in and out of their homes. The route is expected to be closed for about eight weeks.
Noyce, who uses a crutch or a mobile scooter to get around, has been shielding during the lockdown and relies on supermarket deliveries for her supplies. She is also recovering from injuries sustained after falling while trying to use the bin storage area, which sits on top of a slope. “My knee gave out on the slope because it is too hard on my joints,” she said.
She has been told by her supermarket that because she cannot provide a recognised address on Charlton Church Lane, she can no longer get deliveries.
“The shop said they can only deliver to my bank card address,” she said. “I have to eat to take medication, so either I don’t eat or I go out to get my shopping myself and break the lockdown law and hope I don’t get coronavirus.”
She said others in her block are elderly or disabled and face similar problems. “I am not the only one who will have to do this if we don’t get access to our road.”
After raising the issue with the building contractor in November, and getting nowhere, she tried emailing Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe earlier this month. She was advised by a council officer to use the town-hall’s volunteer-led community hub service to get supplies.
Noyce, who is 50, has had to spend the pandemic stuck at home next to the noisy building site, making her depression and anxiety worse. “I don’t like asking for help because I will try and look after myself,” she said. “I have had people help me but I get ripped off or they can’t help when I need it.”
The new development, Duke Court, replaces a sheltered accommodation block, Fred Styles House. The 37 homes were given planning permission as council housing in October 2017; however the development has been transferred to Meridian Home Start, a spin-off company which charges tenants about 65 per cent of market rent, compared with the 40 per cent typically charged for a council flat.
At the time, residents complained of a lack of consultation about the planned work – and the then-chair of planning, Labour councillor Mark James, said more work needed to be done in communicating with residents. Three years on, it appears his words have not been heeded.
“I had no idea until it started coming down,” Noyce said. “I feel they should have moved us all out. I feel as if I don’t have a voice in the matter.”
When visiting the block on Thursday, 853 spoke to an elderly neighbour of Noyce’s who told how she took a bus one stop to reach Charlton Village because she was unable to walk up the hill at Charlton Church Lane. She added that the problems accessing the block were compounded by a broken lift.
Despite Noyce’s pleas for help, the council has been insistent that using Charlton Church Lane should be sufficient, even though her supermarket will not recognise the address. “Please could you advise delivery companies that the most appropriate access arrangement to your flat is via Charlton Church Lane,” a council officer wrote on Wednesday.
“They don’t care what happens to disabled and old people,” Noyce said.
“I don’t know what I will do next, I will just try and look after myself the best I can. I will keep trying with the council because what they are doing is wrong.”
A Greenwich Council spokesperson told 853: “Fletching Road remains open to vehicles and no area of the road is due to be closed off. As part of the building works, a footpath will be closed for eight weeks and affected residents were given advanced warning by the contractor beginning a year ago.
“In the interim, affected properties can be accessed from Charlton Church Lane via a footpath to the street. Signs have been installed advising visitors to the area of access routes to the various blocks on the estate.
“Residents should advise their delivery companies of these temporary arrangements. It is disappointing if supermarkets are not currently recognising this alternative route – and we would urge them to rectify this.
“If shielding residents are unable to receive their groceries, the council’s community hub can help.”
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