Residents of St Michael’s Gate in Parnwell have said that their lives have been thrown into chaos after hearing that they will be forced to leave their homes with less than two month’s notice.
The estate that is used by Peterborough City Council to provide emergency housing is managed Stef &Phillips and has been since 2016. Yet, the council has now decided that that it is not financially viable to renew the lease agreement with the company; which runs out this August.
This means that residents will be forced to leave their homes in an eerily similar way to when the estate hit the national headlines in 2016. Back then, all 74 homes on the estate were brought by Paul Simon Magic Homes and were then to be managed by Stef & Phillips. Then, however, in barely believable style, all of the residents at the time were issued with eviction notices, so that their homes could be leased to Peterborough City Council to provide houses for the homeless.
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The scars of that episode remain and now a whole new batch of residents say they are worried about their future. Residents have told the Peterborough Telegraph that they know of neighbours that have had phone calls to be told that there has been a place found for them but that they would have to be out the next day.
One female resident, who did not wish to be named, told the Peterborough Telegraph; “My whole life is in that house. I have lived there for five years and have six children. One of them has complex needs and another has memory loss issues. He is settled here, I have no idea how long it is going to take me to explain to him that he has to move.
“Children need stability in their lives. I know people that are here now that average three moves a year, it really is shocking.
"We are all just in limbo. Some of us have had letters, some haven’t, some have had knocks at the door and some have had phone calls and been told they have to be out the next day.
"If I get that call, what am I going to do? I can’t go and live in a small, maybe two-bedroom hostel.
“There’s many residents here that don’t speak English as their first language and given how this has been handled, I doubt they even know they have to move.”
Another resident, a male, who also wished not to be named, described how the first he heard about having to leave was through a conversation with the site’s caretaker. He said: “When I originally tried to contact the council about this I just got no comment. Then the letter come through the door on Monday (June 27) telling me that myself and my family have to be out by August 19. What do you do?”
The council has said that it is working to support residents in the rehoming process but residents are worried about when this support will arrive and how quickly they will then be asked to move.
A Peterborough City Council spokesperson said: “We will be working to relocate the residents who are housed in temporary accommodation at St Michael’s Gate over the coming weeks. This is because of concerns at the council regarding the financial viability of the site.
“Our housing needs team will visit St Michael’s Gate and speak to residents on a 1-1 basis. We understand how distressing this will be for residents and want to be able to answer questions and listen to concerns face to face. We will work to find them alternative accommodation as soon as possible.”
Stef & Phillips has not yet commented on the situation and it is unknown what their official plans for the properties are. In 2016, they threatened to fill the estate with homeless families from London.
Residents have also been left frustrated with the company for the run down state the area has been allowed to fall into. A walk around the estate reveals furniture left fly-tipped in gardens, missing fence panels making it unsafe for for children to play outside, litter strewn across the paths and even items such as bicycles and garden benches used as makeshift fence panels.
This too has shades of the recent past as In 2018, the PT revisited the estate and revealed widespread complaints regarding anti-social behaviour and mental health struggles. Before that, the PT revealed that an enforcement notice had been handed over to Stef & Phillips from the council following complaints about damp and mould at some properties. Concerns about a lack of heating were also raised.
Another resident added: “It just isn’t safe for children here. For around four months there were no working street lights, it was just pitch black at night. We get problems with syringes, medicine boxes lying around- sometimes with tablets still inside, we’ve seen drug deals happening in the open and I’ve been attacked by a couple of drunks while heavily pregnant.
"This whole situation is just so confusing for everyone but especially my kids. What if I get a call and am told I have to move somewhere far away, what I am I going to do about their schooling? their medication? the other support I have access to here? I just don’t know.”