A block of flats is so blighted by drugs, antisocial behaviour and fire damage that residents are embarrassed about their own homes. The Argus reported how tenants in Park Court in Davigdor Road, Hove, are confronted by mattresses, used needles and homeless people sleeping, having sex and taking drugs at their front door. Reporter Patrick Barlow visited to see just how bad it has become.

When you walk from one side of Davigdor Road to the other – from new build flats to the nearby decades-old block – the difference between the two is conspicuous.

One building is fresh, clean and modern one of  the towering developments which are popping up across Brighton and Hove.

But stepping into Park Court the building feels run down and teeming with problems.

It’s clear why residents said they felt “embarrassed” by the building when they met staff from housing association Sanctuary last  week.

The smell of smoke clings to one end of the second floor after a potentially catastrophic fire earlier this year, a faulty lift means disabled residents fear for their freedom, and terrified tenants have to contend with a homeless population who slip into the building to shelter, bringing drugs and violence with them.

Rubbish discarded in a radiator by homeless peopleRubbish discarded in a radiator by homeless people (Image: Andrew Gardner | The Argus)

Residents were happy to speak to The Argus but feared having their names published due to the problems they witness.

One said: “Two days ago as I was coming down the stairs there was someone pulling out the paraphernalia to shoot up [inject drugs such as heroin].

“My family member tried to pass with their children to get to the car and he wouldn’t move. Eventually we had to squeeze past.

“It was this feeling of feeling really unsafe. He wasn’t aggressive, but he did what he needed to do and would not move.”

Residents said Park Court was “lovely and pleasant” when it opened 27 years ago, but it has declined terribly.

Strangers taking drugs in the doorways is just one of a litany of horrors that Park Court residents told The Argus about.

One man who walks with a frame said that windows on his floor had been bolted shut and the lift was frequently out of order, making his life extremely difficult.

A woman who lives with her five-year-old grandson said rising mould and damp threaten to take over her top floor flat each winter and has left her with no choice but to throw away children’s toys only bought at Christmas.

A radiator falling off a wall in a smoke damaged stairwellA radiator falling off a wall in a smoke damaged stairwell (Image: Andrew Gardner | The Argus)

She added: “I don’t want my grandson growing up in this environment. We can hear people swearing and shouting, it’s not safe.”

Residents said there have been issues for years and they vented their frustrations to Sanctuary Housing, which operates the building, at a public meeting.

The tenants raised concerns about used needles and drug use, antisocial behaviour and homeless people sleeping in hallways and on fly-tipped mattresses, having sex and accosting them in the corridors.

One resident described covering their face with a towel to protect them from thick black smoke from an electric blanket fire which threatened to engulf the second floor. It was the third fire in the same flat since 2018.

Since the meeting Sanctuary said an “action plan” would be carried out and an abandoned mattress has already been removed. But residents are pushing for matters to be resolved once and for all.

One woman said: “What is it going to take to get something to happen? Is it going to take one of us to get stabbed or really severely hurt for Sanctuary to get their act together?

Mould growing on a lampshadeMould growing on a lampshade (Image: Supplied)

“I’ve seen a drugs deal out of my window. We’ve seen people armed with tools, what are the chances they get into the building and into our flat?”

Brighton and Hove City Councillor Jackie O’Quinn, who attended the meeting, demanded that progress on the problems should be measured in two months’ time to ensure that action is being taken by Sanctuary.

Mould covering children's toysMould covering children's toys (Image: Supplied)

A spokesman for the housing association said: “We listened carefully to the concerns raised by our residents at the meeting and have reassured them we are committed to looking into them to ensure they are addressed.

“An action plan will be put together and shared with residents to demonstrate we are taking their concerns seriously, and we can confirm a fire safety check has already been carried out.

“We will also continue to work with the police and other local stakeholders to ensure that complaints relating to criminality, antisocial behaviour and flytipping are tackled by the organisations with the relevant powers.”