Decanted families warehoused in office blocks

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Terminus House office block in Harlow

FAMILIES are being ‘warehoused’ inside an office block in Harlow, Essex after being decanted from their local boroughs, with tenants forced to eat, drink and sleep in their beds because of the box room size of the flats.

Terminus House, a former office block, Essex town’s tallest building, is one of hundreds up and down England which have been turned into housing without ever needing planning permission.

Since the office block was resurrected as a housing complex in April 2018, crime has soared.

The block is owned by private company Caridon Property which make vast profits off the 14-storey 1960s office block.

Police figures show that in the first 10 months after people moved in, crime within Terminus House itself rose by 45%.

‘It is very scary,’ says mother-of-four Melanie Smith, sitting on the sofa which doubles as her bed, a few feet from the oven and sink of her one-room studio.

Pressed close to her couch is one of the two beds that fill the rest of her flat and upon which her two sons eat, play and sleep.

Smith is one of hundreds of residents placed at Terminus House in Harlow by councils in and around London, often many miles from everything and everybody they once knew.

‘There’s no room,’ she said.

‘They have to eat, drink and sleep in their beds. There’s no room to move about. It is not good for them. It is ridiculous really.’

She said it was not safe for her children to go downstairs, even during the day, because of drug users who are ‘out of it’.

‘Any arguments that happen, it is always, constantly, outside the door. Often you hear them banging against the door where they are fighting.

‘The wall next to me – I had to clean the blood off it two weeks ago.

‘You don’t want them (the children) going down there – I don’t want them thinking this is normal.’