Gran ‘feels like screaming’ over problems at ‘regenerated’ block of flats

A fed-up grandma feels like ‘banging the walls and screaming’ over problems in her block of flats – a newly regenerated purpose built home for over 55s.

Chelmsley Wood‘s Fillingham Court was newly built on a former residential site as part of the regeneration of North Solihull, officially opening in 2016.

But resident of three years Georgina Bennett, 73, said she feels like she’s in ‘prison’ and wishes she could leave her first floor flat amid a string of issues.

Ms Bennett had to be moved from her initial flat in the block due to leaks and damp in her apartment – which she claims have affected her breathing issues.

Most recently, the residents’ leaky hallway was plunged into darkness amid issues with the electricity. It’s now been partially lit with temporary plug-in lights on the floor – which is lined with buckets to catch dripping water.

The one and two-bedroom apartments were said to be “specifically designed to cater for the needs” of the residents – but the gran, who has mobility issues, fears she would ‘not be able to escape if there was a fire’.

Citizen Housing told BirminghamLive there is a fire evacuation policy and Ms Bennett will be ‘prioritised’ as part of a ‘personal evacuation emergency plan’ if there is a fire.

The resident, who suffers with bronchitis and asthma, told BirminghamLive: “I feel like I’m in a prison, how much more can I take?”

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She claims to have suffered for months with a ‘really bad’ chest after moving into a Fillingham Court flat where water was coming through her ceiling.

“Well it made it worse, a lot worse,” she said of the leaks in her flat. “I’ve been on antibiotics for around a year and a half.”

She was moved into another apartment in the same block as Citizen Housing vowed to repair her leaks, however nine months later they have still not been carried out.

Though her current flat is ‘lovely’ inside with no leaks, water has also started coming from the ceiling in the hallway too – so much so the main lights have been turned off.

The hallway is now largely in darkness, save for a few plug-in lights on the floor. Buckets are also dotted around in the dark to catch the leaking water.

She added: “It’s very dangerous, not only me but the other neighbours – we’re all old in this block.

“Downstairs now they’re getting leaks, there’s a gentleman there, he’s had leaks for even longer than me.

“I’m worried in case the leaks come back in this flat.”

Now situated in a first floor flat with mobility issues, she says she fears she wouldn’t be able to escape if there was a fire in her accommodation block.

“When the fire alarm goes off, I won’t be able to get down the stairs ,I’ve got a bad leg.” she added.

“I do really need to be on the ground floor. If the place goes up in flames, I’m worried about myself trying to get out.”

She claims Citizen Housing know about the issues with her mobility.

Gran 'feels like screaming' over problems at 'regenerated' block of flats

“My chest is really bad, it gets worse through the day, I’m sick of going on anti-biotics, I’ve put so much weight on me it’s unbelievable,” she said.

“I feel like banging the walls or screaming and I wish I could get out. I would if I could walk, which I can’t, because I’m waiting to go in for an operation on my knee.

“For two and a half years I haven’t really been out of this place. I can’t get out because of my legs. I’m getting fed up of being in here.

“How much more can I take? I feel like I’m in a prison, it’s ridiculous if you don’t live – you don’t exist.

“I’ve already moved, I’m no spring chicken to keep moving. But I think I’ll have to move because of my chest. I want to go to a different property.”

Citizen has since apologised for the inconvenience to Ms Bennett and said it was working to find a permanent solution for the leaks.

Ms Bennett will also be prioritised in the event of a fire due to her mobility concerns, the housing provider said.

A spokesperson for Citizen said: “We are sorry about the inconvenience Ms Bennett has been experiencing in her home.

“We permanently moved Ms Bennett into a new flat at Fillingham Court due to a leak in her flat in the same building.

“A leak was then found in the communal corridor outside Ms Bennett’s new flat. We are working to contain this leak while we investigate the cause and provide a permanent solution.

“In the meantime cleaning of the affected area has been increased and the electrics have been isolated to make it safe. We’ve also installed temporary lighting.

“A survey will be carried out next week and following this a permanent solution will be arranged.

“There is a fire evacuation policy in place for Fillingham Court and we will carry out a personal evacuation emergency plan for Ms Bennett which will document her mobility concerns so that in the unlikely event of an emergency she is prioritised.”

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