‘Terrible’ Greenwich Council housing block finally due for refurbishment

Woodland Grove flats with paint peeling from balconies
Woodland Grove, in east Greenwich, captured on Google cameras in May, has had a dilapidated exterior for years

One of Greenwich’s most dilapidated council blocks is finally in line for a refurbishment – more than six years after they were promised work was due to take place.

The exterior of the block on Woodland Grove, has been crumbling for years, with paintwork falling off balconies and holes in the roofs of the stairwells.

Local councillor Majid Rahman made the unusual move of speaking out about the “terrible” state of the block during Wednesday night’s council meeting. It is rare for Labour councillors to speak out about their own town hall’s failings during full council meetings, which have traditionally been subject to strict party discipline.

He said that residents had been told in 2016 that their block was on a five-year plan for upgrades and refurbishment.

“The residents are a mix of council tenants and leaseholders, and one of the leaseholders hasn’t been able to sell her property due to the current condition of the overall estate, even though her flat received positive comments from the potential buyers,” he said. “Another resident had a mortgage application refused because of the condition of this estate.”

Rahman added: “It is quite apparent how poorly maintained the estate has been. The wooden panels on the estate are breaking and replaced by temporary chip wood panels, which are not fire resistant. So it’s a safety hazard and these need to be fixed.

“There are holes in the roof of the stairwells and the overall paint work is peeling off. It is a terrible sight, both visually and in terms of health and safety. We would like to be able to tell our residents that the work will commence soon.”

Rahman, who represents East Greenwich, asked for confirmation that work would begin next year. He contrasted the tatty block with the new council housing close by at Sam Manners House, where construction recently started.

“We want our residents to feel valued and we want our residents to feel like the new developments are not going to overshadow the existing ones,” he said.

Pat Slattery, the cabinet member for housing, admitted that “it must be galling” to see the dilapidated estate next to the new-builds going up almost next door.

She said a tender would be put out for the work “early in the new year”.

“We’re partly in the gift of the gods of Brexit, the last knockings of covid and inflation. But I’m happy to say it’s going to be part of an external decorations programme, which for some reason I don’t understand, we haven’t had for 11 years.”

East Greenwich was one of the borough’s most marginal wards at the council election in May, with Rahman just 68 votes ahead of the Green candidate Stacy Smith. Refurbishing council blocks was in the Labour manifesto for that election.

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