Fed-up residents on a South Tyneside estate who have campaigned for years to have their homes modernised have been hit with a new housing hammer blow.
Forty-three prefabricated homes in Eskdale Drive on the Lakes Estate in Jarrow are to be overhauled as part of the Decent Homes Programme.
When work to fit new kitchens and bathrooms, heating systems and to rewire the ageing properties started in July it appeared the end of a long battle for residents.
But just weeks after the work started they have been told the condition of the properties is worse than originally thought and that it will now take “much longer” and cost “much more” to complete than originally budgeted for.
The news has come as a body blow to Eskdale Drive resident June Wright, 64, who was moved out of her three-bedroom home into a nearby bungalow on August 12 - with a date of November 19 originally set for her return.
Now she fears she will be still away from her home at Christmas.
Mrs Wright, who gathered a petition calling for the work to be done, said: “After all that we have been through we now get this news. It is so annoying and I can’t see us being home for Christmas now.
“I can accept that they did not see this problem coming but why didn’t they have a contingency plan in place to deal with something like this?
“The people in the street love living here, we just want our homes modernised.
“Yes, we are annoyed but all we want now are assurances that we will be moved back and that the properties won’t be demolished and the land sold off to a housing association. There will be World War Three here if that happens.”
Paul Mains, managing director of South Tyneside Homes, said: “It is now clear that Decent Homes work in Eskdale Drive will be more expensive and will take much longer than first anticipated.
“As a result we are informing residents of what we have found so far.
“Further investigations are ongoing and once we have completed this work recommendations will be made to the council’s cabinet outlining potential ways forward.
“We will keep residents updated throughout this process which should take a number of weeks.
“I must emphasise that the properties which have not been vacated are suitable to live in.
“We want to work with residents so that they are able to secure the best possible housing solution long term and have homes that they can really be proud of.
“I appreciate that this is a frustrating time for the residents of Eskdale Drive, especially those who have already been moved out of their homes or are in the process of doing so.
“Unfortunately there was no way of doing such intrusive works whilst tenants were living in their homes.
“It is only now that these problems have come to light and we must continue investigations to ascertain the size and scale of the works.
“We are working tirelessly to present a range of options for consideration and work continues on site. I’d like to apologise to tenants for the delay in progress and thank them for their patience during this time.”
The prefabricated homes on Eskdale Drive on the Lakes Estate were built at the end of the Second World War and were expected to last only 20 years.
South Tyneside Homes’ contractor, Keepmoat, is on site and is helping the council and South Tyneside homes with further exploratory works.
To date over £266m has been invested in the Decent Homes programme in improving the living conditions of people across the borough.