Through the keyhole at Derby’s blocks of flats from hell

Residents are afraid to open their doors and feel like prisoners in their own home, communal areas reek of human waste and residents fear being assaulted by intruders. Welcome to Derby’s flats from hell.

The apartment blocks on Gower Street in Derby city centre have been riddled with problems in recent years, namely intruders urinating, defecating and taking drugs in corridors. Residents on the problem street have spent months attempting to shed light on what goes on outside their front doors and force authorities and the companies that manage the buildings into taking action.

Derbyshire Live first reported on Prosperity House in 2018 but residents reached out to us again to say that problems continue to go unresolved. Residents at Prosperity House said last month that living in the apartment block was like a nightmare.

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Next door at Babington Court, there have been similar reports with residents telling Derbyshire Live that they were afraid to open their doors. The problems have been so severe that residents from both properties invited me to see the issues first hand.

Derby City Council told Derbyshire Live that action was being taken by Premier Estates, the company that manages Prosperity House. A resident told me that this was the case and upon arrival, it was surprising to see a clean foyer.

I am let in by a resident using their fob. Notices from Derbyshire Police and Premier Estates were placed on doors warning possible intruders that action would be taken against them. I was told by the resident that I was going to be taken to the top floor (floor 9), which has been a notorious hotspot for illicit activities inside the building.

Mould covers the walls of the fire stairs at Prosperity House

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As we climb, the resident tells me that they had been assaulted by one of the intruders just days before after challenging them in one of the building’s corridors. It is as we approach the landing on floor six that the smell of human waste becomes unavoidable. Even if the building looks clean, you can tell that urine has set into the carpets.

We approach floor nine and I am relieved that we are alone. It is clear that the door to the building’s penthouse has been kicked open at some point and there is a small amount of rubbish left around the landing.

The resident and I are confronted by a caretaker and security guard who have heard the two of us talking and likely assumed the worst. After introductions, the caretaker says that he has read our previous stories and the Premier Properties are working hard to tackle issues.

The security guard is new, his first day, and reassures the resident that someone will be in the building to address future issues. This is a little bit late for the resident who is still bruised from their altercation a few days before.

The resident is sceptical that anything will be done. “They did this before, for like a month and then it stopped again,” I am told as we continue our tour.

I am taken down a corridor on the seventh floor, water dripping from the ceiling and pooling in a bucket ahead. Mould sprawls across the ceiling and there is no denying the smell of dampness.

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Passing through floor seven, we come to a door that reveals the fire stairs – another problem area for the building. As we navigate our way down to the ground level, wall after wall after wall is caked in mould.

I wonder how desperate you must be for some kind of shelter to willingly spend any amount of time there. The resident tells me: “I am more scared of the mould than of the fire.”

We leave and I am grateful for a brief breath of fresh air. I am relieved that Prosperity House does seem to be making some kind of progress, even if there are still a number of issues that need to be resolved.

As I approach the door to Babington Court, it is clear that anyone can enter and that the door remains broken. The contract with Prosperity House is stark with debris sprawled across the main foyer. There is a large brown stain by the lifts directly ahead, who knows what it is.

It is clear that little has happened, despite promises from the managing company Leaders Romans Group (LRG) that action is being taken.

The entrance to Babington Court

Residents at Prosperity House and Babington Court say that they are hoping to meet with LRG and Premier Estates as well as with Derbyshire Police and Derby City Council to discuss the ongoing issues. Michael Cook, Group Managing Director at LRG told Derbyshire Live:

“We are sorry to hear that some of our tenants are continuing to experience anti-social behaviour in Babington Court. We are working closely with our maintenance team to fix the doors, locks and access controls so that the building is only accessible to residents.

“Unfortunately, there have been delays with works being completed and we are doing everything in our power to speed this up. To limit people breaking into the building and causing damage, we have instated nightly security patrols on the premises so that tenants feel safer in their homes.

“We are all very concerned about the ongoing homelessness problems in the Derby area, and regret that people must take such drastic measures to find a safe place to sleep.” Derbyshire Live reached out to Premier Estates for comment on the damp issues and mould growing in the building.

They have declined to comment. Derbyshire police told Derbyshire Live that they are aware of an assault on a resident at Prosperity House. They said: “

Officers were called to reports that a woman had been assaulted at a property in Gower Street, Derby, at around 4.30pm on 25 March. “The victim stated that she was assaulted after asking two women to leave a communal area of a block of flats.

“The two women were described as: Woman one – White, in her 30s, well built, with red curly/frizzy hair. She was wearing a pair of light-coloured Adidas tracksuit bottoms and a dark top. Woman two – White, in her 20s, black hair, and had a face with a number of scars and bruises. Both the women were around 5ft 6ins tall.

“The woman with red hair punched the victim in the face causing bruising. Anyone with any information about the identity of the women is asked to contact the force with reference 22*171327.”