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Families unable to open windows at South Woodford temporary housing scheme as temperatures hit 36 degrees

PUBLISHED: 12:00 17 August 2020

The temporary homes in Chigwell Road, South Woodford. Picture: Google Streetview

The temporary homes in Chigwell Road, South Woodford. Picture: Google Streetview

Archant

Tenants in a temporary housing block are being contacted by the council after temperatures inside homes reached a sweltering 36 degrees last week, with no way of opening the windows.

Redbridge Council said: “We’re aware of this situation. First and foremost, no tenant should have to contend with temperatures of that level. We want to apologise for any distress this has caused.”

A total of 30 units were built by Redbridge Council in Chigwell Road, South Woodford, to house homeless residents despite more than 100 objections, many concerning the quality of the housing.

The double-glazed windows of each unit are sealed shut by an extra layer of glass due to pollution levels – but that made them unbearably hot during last week’s heatwave.

Deniqua Willis-Jackson, 25, said on Wednesday, August 12: “My son has a heat rash on him and, especially during this humidity, he uses his (asthma) pump so much more. He’s only eight and his whole face is wet with sweat.

“For me, sleeping is really difficult. I now get to bed at around 5am. Yesterday, when I was doing my son’s hair, I had to stop twice because I thought I was going to faint.

“It’s really, really bad in here. I don’t want to move, I’m fine where I am, but the windows need to be open.”

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This week the council said: “The windows are sealed at 118 Chigwell Road. However, an air filtration system was installed throughout the entire housing block.

“We recognise this has not had the desired impact in the case of the tenant’s property. Therefore, we’ve offered them alternative accommodation, although we understand the tenant is mainly happy with the property due to the proximity to her child’s school.

“We’re also contacting all residents in the block to check if they have any health issues that are being affected by the high temperatures and offer them alternative accommodation.”

Cllr Suzanne Nolan (Con, South Woodford) said the situation was “totally and utterly unacceptable”, adding: “I’m very worried for this lady. She’s clearly worried for her own health and her little boy.

“They are grateful to have somewhere to live but it’s got to be the right place for someone to live. Vulnerable people need proper and decent homes.

“I know it’s a bit drastic to say we would not put an animal in these kind of conditions but we would not. This was the first development of its kind and there are lessons to be learned from this.”

Redbridge Council responded last year to criticisms of the scheme by insisting it is dealing as best it can with a “housing crisis that was made in Westminster”.

The council told the Ilford Recorder in August last year: “Central government has put us in a position that forces us to build homes like the scheme in South Woodford so that we can provide safe and secure accommodation for families who would otherwise find themselves in hostels or bed and breakfast, often outside the borough.”

Deniqua lived in a hostel in Gants Hill, which she said was “like a prison”, for nine months previously and was “ready to take any exit out” when she accepted the South Woodford flat.


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