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New housing development divides opinion with some saying it “looks like a prison”

By Tara O’Connor, local democracy reporter

A new housing development in Crystal Palace is dividing opinion in the community, with some believing it to “look like a prison” – while others say it is “beautiful”.

The new Brick by Brick flats are starting to fill up four years after construction work started on the South London estate.

The development company is owned by Croydon Council and has built a series of one and two bedroom flats.

The new buildings have been built on open space or garages in the existing estate and work started in December 2017.

A 69-year-old woman who has lived on the estate since 1991 said there was a “lot of upheaval” when the new developments were being built.

“I feel relieved it is finished but I think they stick out like a sore thumb,” she said.

“It was a nice clean decent estate, now we’ve got these square blocks everywhere.”

The Auckland Rise and Sylvan Hill development includes 57 one and two-bedroom flats, including 19 for shared ownership.

And 35-year-old Roy works nights and said it was “horrendous” when building work was taking place.

He has two children aged seven and five who he says has lost a space they used to play to a communal allotment.

He said: “We don’t get much natural light before but not it is completely blocked.

“[The allotment] is one of the worst things, I can’t stand it, it looks like a prison.

“That where my kids would play where I could keep an eye on them. They look like grave stones, they are not the most attractive thing.”

But others in the estate welcome the new additions.

Like Billy Hawkes, 25 , who has lived there for two years.

“I think these flats are beautiful, I really like the brick.

“The works weren’t really a problem for us and I don’t really mind having something else in front of my place.”

We managed to speak to one of the new Brick by Brick residents who was pleased with her new home which she said was built “fantastically”.

The 59-year-old woman says she was one of the first to move into her flat at the beginning of August.

She owns 30 per cent of her one bedroom flat but thinks the price of the flats could be a reason some are still empty.

She said: “I tried to get a two-bedroom flat but I couldn’t afford it, if I didn’t get help from Croydon Council for my rent because of my health problems it would be too much to pay.”

Rent on the rest of the 70 per cent of her home would cost her £530 as well as the monthly £150 management fee.

A 25 per cent share of a two bedroom flat is on the market for £115,000.

Emma El-Hadidi, 35, moved into one of the old blocks facing Church Road which is next to one of the Brick by Brick blocks.

She said: “I haven’t lived here long but the green area we back onto before Brick by Brick was built. The people in this block could get into this back bit but when they built it they blocked it.”

Since the new flats have been built, a 56-year-old resident who has lived there for 21 years says she feels overlooked.

She said: “It is like they are more important than us, that is how we feel.

“Before the space behind our block was open but now we don’t have access to it.”

Brick by Brick was contacted for comment.

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