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What It's Like Living In The Last Houses Standing On An Abandoned Estate


What It's Like Living In The Last Houses Standing On An Abandoned Estate
Hull's most deserted street - Pretoria Street (Image: Hull Daily Mail)

It is a street which has been left to wrack and ruin with families waking up every morning to a scene of misery and desolation.

Over the years, the number of houses in Pretoria Street, Hull, has dwindled and declined to the point where a solitary and lonely row of eight houses now look out over what has become barren wasteland.

Just a few years ago the cul-de-sac was bustling with homes on either side of the road but now just a handful of residents remain on the street, which is effectively in a state of limbo.

Understandably, many feel like they’ve been left behind, and they’ve had to watch in despair as thousands of new homes get built just five minutes down the road.

Leon Armstrong, his partner Kimberley Brown and their three children have lived in one of the few terraced houses left in Pretoria Street for the past four years.

What It's Like Living In The Last Houses Standing On An Abandoned Estate
Leon Armstrong on Hull's most deserted street - Pretoria Street (Image: Hull Daily Mail)
What It's Like Living In The Last Houses Standing On An Abandoned Estate
Hull's most deserted street - Pretoria Street (Image: Hull Daily Mail)

They have seen homes around them get torn down and they thought they too would be moved out of their family home and placed elsewhere as part of the huge regeneration.

However, the family are still waiting for that to happen and Miss Brown admitted she is desperate to move for the sake of her children.

“I hate it,” the 25-year-old said. “But I can’t afford to move out.

“It’s not nice for the kids to see police and the fire brigade down here because kids are setting things on fire.

"Last summer we had druggies down here who caused a few problems and you daren’t leave your front door unlocked.

“We feel like we’ve been left behind and we don’t feel safe here.”

An area of unkempt grassland right in front of the deserted street has become a zone for fly-tipping.

There is a scorched circle where bonfires have clearly been lit and a pile of black bin bags next to an array of peculiar items.

From cots to sofas, scooters to children’s toys, there is a mix of abandoned rubbish but the biggest concern is the empty houses left to gather dust.

Although most have been boarded up, some have had their windows smashed in, nearly all of them have been daubed in graffiti, one has clearly been set on fire and for Miss Brown the whole look makes for a “depressing” view.

“It’s horrible to look out of the window and see that,” she said. “We thought they were going to build a park on there but that never happened.

“We’ve had drug dealers next door to us in the past and they came with a gun and that didn’t help me considering I’m quite an anxious person anyway.

“We want to move but just can’t afford it so we’ve got to make do with what we’ve got.”

Mr Armstrong, who is 27, said the clutch of neighbours in Pretoria Street rarely speak to one another and he admits there is no sense of community.

“That grassland used to be full of houses and it’s sad how they’ve just left it like that. It’s a quiet street and people don’t really come out.”

However, not everyone loathes living in Hull’s most deserted street.

What It's Like Living In The Last Houses Standing On An Abandoned Estate
Tina Scholey on Hull's most deserted street - Pretoria Street (Image: Hull Daily Mail)

Tina Scholey, 47, is one of Pretoria Street’s longest residing residents having moved in 18 years ago, and although she admits the street has become an eyesore, home is ultimately where the heart is.

“I like living down here,” the mum-of-three said. “I’ve never really wanted to move because it is my family home.

“It’s all my kids have ever known and all the memories we’ve had over the years have been at this property.”

Miss Scholey agrees it needs “whipping into shape” and she recalls there were plans to tear down the whole of Pretoria Street in a huge regeneration project.

She thinks it is “crazy” for just eight houses to be left and says sometimes people get confused and think Pretoria Street has been abandoned.

“It does look bad and sometimes I’ve had booked taxis come and then drive off because they think it is a hoax call,” Miss Scholey said.

“It was full of terraced housing on both sides and I think the way they are doing it is crazy. Why would you leave eight houses up?

“When they were pulling down the houses they gave us new windows and doors to be in keeping with the new properties that would be built around us but why build around old houses?

“By the time they get round to building them these new doors and windows and not going to be new anymore.”

Miss Scholey also admits it is sad to see that a green field outside their homes has become a “dumping ground” for fly-tippers, with residents concerned about the waste.

“People class it as wasteland over there,” she said. “People bring their horses on it and it is just a mess. People have bonfires on it and it is just a dumping ground.

“Kids go on it and inside the houses and you don’t know what they get up to in there. They are an eyesore and there is a concern about food waste because we don’t want vermin coming into our homes.”

Thomas Dumughn, 24, who has lived in Pretoria Street with his partner, Ellie Caulfield, 23, for just over a year is due to move next month.

He says living in such an isolated street presents as both “a blessing and a curse” but his partner admits for the past year she has felt “forgotten about”.

Mr Dumughn said: “It’s silent, quiet and there’s no one about which is good but it’s a depressing place to be. I grew up in Swanland and Brough and this just isn’t a good place to be.

“Rubbish is a problem down here and you do get fly-tippers too. It’s not nice to see and because of the rubbish you do see rats running around in the field.

“That is why we are moving and we’re going up to Greenwood Avenue.”

What It's Like Living In The Last Houses Standing On An Abandoned Estate
Hull's most deserted street - Pretoria Street (Image: Hull Daily Mail)
What It's Like Living In The Last Houses Standing On An Abandoned Estate
Hull's most deserted street - Pretoria Street (Image: Hull Daily Mail)

Miss Caulfield added: “I suffer from mental health problems and moving here has been depressing. Our house is full of damp but the neighbours are lovely – it’s just the area.

“It’s deserted and we feel ignored. They could make this into a really lovely area but we just feel forgotten about.”

Unsurprisingly, Pretoria Street is the most deserted street in Hull by percentage, according to the latest figures on the Hull City Council website.

If you take out the big streets in Hull, such as nearby Anlaby Road, Holderness Road and Hessle Road, Pretoria Street has the fourth highest number of empty properties with 11 standing dormant in the cul-de-sac.

The plan for the Hawthorn Avenue area was to knock down all the houses and rebuild them as part of the Gateway regeneration scheme.

However, it has not been that straightforward, with the scheme abruptly halted following the creation of a new coalition government in 2010.

Two years later, an agreement was reached between Hull City Council and the office of then Housing Minister Grant Shapps over the release of £8m from the Regional Growth Fund.

This cash released further council money and also ensured private developer Keepmoat could invest in the area.

The go-ahead was then given to allow long-standing plans for the demolition of 224 privately-owned homes dating back to the First World War and to be replaced with new housing.

Overall, it would result in 1,475 new and refurbished homes with £135m of investment.

But there was frustration for residents living in White and Pretoria streets, who were told their homes would not be demolished and they would only receive frontage improvements. Effectively, they would be living on a building site.

Council response

Hull City Council has said it was not possible to demolish all of the properties in Pretoria Street due to the cul-de-sac’s layout.

The authority is waiting to purchase four empty properties at the end of the street and should it be successful, the council will then look to demolish the remaining houses “as soon as practicable”.

A spokeswoman for Hull City Council said: “After the Government removed Housing Market Renewal Funding in 2010 the council successfully bid for Regional Growth Funding to carry out a facelift improvement programme to 137 properties in the Newington area, including those fronting Pretoria Street.

“The remaining properties in the area are part of the demolition and new build proposals which includes 17 and 19 Pretoria Street and the properties to the rear, all of which are currently empty.

"Residents living in properties proposed for demolition were relocated as part of the council’s voluntary acquisition programme with the last remaining resident moving in March 2016.

“The remaining empty properties at the end of the street are part of a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) by the council to acquire the last four remaining property interests.

“Due to the layout of the streets it was not possible to demolish all of the remaining empty properties until these remaining interests were acquired.

“The CPO hearing took place on Tuesday, March 26, 2019, and we are now awaiting the outcome.

"Should the Order be upheld, the council will seek to demolish the remaining properties as soon as practicable.

“The land already has planning permission in place for the development of 241 two and three bedroom homes.

"These will be developed by the council’s procured development partner for the area, Keepmoat Homes, with properties for sale and affordable rent.

“The council’s dedicated Renewals Team continues to manage the area through this period and if there any specific issues relating to the condition of properties or the land assembled for development, then they should contact the council.”


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