Fringe Box



Tower Block ‘Can’t Be Filled’ Due to Antisocial Behaviour

Published on: 13 Jun, 2023
Updated on: 15 Jun, 2023

Surrey Towers Addlestone (Image Chris Caulfield)

By Chris Caulfield

local democracy reporter

A tower block in Surrey takes twice as long for its local council to fill compared with the rest of its housing stock due to antisocial behaviour, a new report said.

Surrey Towers, in Addlestone, has faced long-standing issues with drugs and antisocial behaviour which has impacted on people’s desire to move into the high-rise that dominates the town’s skyline.

It also costs Runnymede Borough Council lost income and does little to alleviate the pressure for good family homes.

Now, more than a decade after the council lifted age restrictions in the tower block as part of a previous effort to fill the high rise – a new housing strategy has been approved seeking address the problem.

According to papers presented to the housing committee, on Wednesday, June 7, the council is “experiencing lower demand from housing applicants for properties at Surrey Towers”.

To remedy this, any properties that remain vacant will first be offered as a direct let to homeless households. If this doesn’t work, rules insisting two children of the same sex must share a room would be lifted to “enable applicants to benefit from an additional bedroom to their assessed housing need”.

This will allow the three-bedroom properties within the block to be let to families that may have only been entitled to apply for two-bed homes.

If all else fails and there is still no forthcoming interest, the papers read, the council will let key workers employed in Runnymede “to benefit from the accommodation”. Conservative Councillor Peter Snow told the committee that there had been: “Lots of issues around Surrey Towers.

“There is a parking issue which we’ve not been able to sort for a number of years because everybody seems to use it, including Runnymede Borough Council staff.”

He said the children’s areas were not up to the job with too many signs discouraging play which he hoped the council would fix or remove to make it more inviting. He added: “We’ve got a drugs issue.”

He said if the council could resolve the issues, lack of demand would go away by itself – but “the problem is it’s got such a reputation and it might take a number of years for that to happen”.

Cllr Isabel Mullens, deputy leader of the Runnymede Independent Residents Group & Englefield Green Independents, told the meeting that here is a perception among residents of Runnymede that antisocial behaviour was more prevalent in Surrey Towers than anywhere else in the borough, and some people don’t like living in high rise blocks. More so as the lifts in Surrey Towers are not always working.

The current rent rates charged by the council already do not cover the cost of managing the site, making a rent reduction difficult to push through, the meeting heard.

Statistics presented to the committee backed what was said with the average re-let time for properties at Surrey Towers taking 65 days compared with 32 on average for the rest of the council’s housing stock.

Twelve per cent of the homes in the block sit empty. The new guidelines were agreed on a one-year trial basis.

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Responses to Tower Block ‘Can’t Be Filled’ Due to Antisocial Behaviour

  1. S Callanan Reply

    June 14, 2023 at 12:18 pm

    “There is a parking issue which we’ve not been able to sort for a number of years because everybody seems to use it, including Runnymede Borough Council staff.”

    This is a joke, right?

  2. Jan Messinger Reply

    June 14, 2023 at 5:29 pm

    Maybe people need to think about these points before too many are built. Anti-social behaviour, vacant properties, rental costs, lifts not working. “Surrey Towers” – really the name says what it sounds like to me.

    Decent homes, decent rent, decent facilities and a decent place to live is surely what most people want.

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