Thu Oct 28, 2021 4:41 pm
Sat Dec 04, 2021 3:57 pm
Life on the ghostly Coventry estate set to be demolished
Life on Coventry's Spon End estate is eerily quiet for the families that remain.
Just 51 families are left on the estate because it has has been marked for demolition and is set to be flattened by 2023.
Once described as a hotspot for anti-social behaviour and fly tipping, the estate is now more like a ghost town.
CoventryLive visited the estate, based on Windsor Street, last week to speak to the estate's remaining 51 families.
The development was built in the 1960s, and getting a house on this estate was a once point of pride for families, as it was hailed as a modern housing solution in the city.
Earmarked for demolition as part of city regeneration, it will be replaced by new homes by 2025, managed by Citizen housing association.
Row upon row of houses are boarded up with metal covers, the playground is locked and defunct satellite dishes line the grey faded walls.
Chatting to us on her balcony, mum of three Monalisa Ball said: "The estate was very good - we are like family and friends.
"It is very sad we are moving out because there are a lot of people from different countries and we formed a very good community."
She added: "When you look at it, you'd be like this place, it is a very bad area, but trust me, it's a very good area, we have formed a very good community here, we know who is who, you can pick somebody's child from school, that sort of thing."
Despite the estate being mostly empty, you can tell there was a strong community here.
It is calm here, people are walking their dogs and you can hear the postman striding the balcony above, delivering letters to the few houses left occupied.
One resident who wished to stay anonymous said: "The area feels perfectly fine, it's quiet, upstairs is all boarded up."
The flats that do have someone left can be distinguished only by a council wheelie bin or hanging basket.
Rows of hanging washing are another indicator of someone being home, and rusted bins and outdoor gym equipment are dotted around the green.
It is worth noting we visited on a quiet weekday morning, when many families would have been at work or school - yet it was still eerily quiet.
Residents tell us that anti social behaviour has dropped dramatically as families have vacated the estate, but say they would like to see more of a police presence, as there are still issues with crime.
One resident also said he has noticed homeless people inappropriately using the estate, particularly at night.
David Nour moved on to the estate in 1998 and lives in a flat with his wife and four children. He said: "It's a lot quieter now that people have gone off.
"It was a nightmare at times - we had kids throwing things at the door, eggs coming in, bins being kicked over."
Mr Nour's Christmas decorations twinkle behind him as he adds: "At one time this was a really nice estate."
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Life on doomed Coventry estate due to be bulldozed in months
A 1960s Coventry estate once praised for its sense of community now feels "dystopian" with some residents left terrified by anti-social behaviour. Brutalist blocks Trafalgar, Milestone and Kerry House in Spon End are set to be knocked down in Spring next year to make way for a £120 million development.
Most of the 158 flats are boarded up but a handful of people still haven't moved out despite being told they'd have to leave two years ago. The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) spoke to some of the current residents to find out more about life on the almost deserted estate.
A mother-of-four who didn't want to give her name told us she was frightened by the drinking and drug-taking that goes on in the stairwells. "Sometimes at night time I'm scared," she said. Friends who used to live here have also gone and there are just a few other families left.
But the house has its benefits, as it's close to her childrens' primary schools, town centre and the station. The other homes they've been offered are often smaller and not as nice, she added.
Citizen, which own the estate, have been "helpful" but the family are still on a waiting list after two years. Daniel Avworo, 22, who lives with his mum in a different block, said there's more peace and quiet as "nobody's here."
"It started slowly, when they said they'd demolish the houses people were moving out with their kids," he said. He described the padlocked playgrounds as "dystopian," but wasn't concerned about anti-social behaviour.
"We live here, so what people might find scary we're used to," he said. After seven years here Daniel's mum has had to come to terms with moving out, but he's not sure if he's sad to leave.
"Life goes on," he said. "You do what you have to do. I'll probably come to visit here, walk around, pass through on my way to town."
But he believes the estate hasn't been looked after and is "more beautiful" in old photos. "It looked really expensive," he said. "The council stopped caring about the area."
Another resident who wished to remain anonymous told us of the estate's vibrant heyday. "Right now it's quiet and dull - before, it was like a community," he said.
"Everyone was around, all taking care of each other, like a family. All the children would go to the same school."
Asked if he's sad to leave, he said "yes, I've known the area for a very long time. "A lot of events used to happen around here, the Rose Community Centre brought people together.
"A couple of years ago, everyone would go through and have a cup of tea, there were parties. Now the community's gone." He admitted the estate is "not as safe as it was" because "you just have yourself."
He tries his best to keep his family safe and they don't tend to discuss the area's problems. Citizen have been helpful but he and his family are still looking for a house - some have been close and some are further out, he said.
The LDRS counted at least a dozen homes on the estate where people still seem to be living. Signs of habitation include bins and washing outside, and they lack the tell-tale metal boards or security notices on the vacant flats.
The overall feeling here is one of decline. Rubbish and furniture are dumped across the estate and pillars are strewn with graffiti, with one tag saying: "RIP Spon End 1770/2021." Yet a revival seems to be taking shape with an "ambitious" development of 750 homes in the area due to start work in 2024.