The half-finished eye-sore flats at Thomas Street have become a festering problem of drink-and-drugs users since they were sold to an unknown owner.
The problem is causing significant concern at the neighbouring Methodist Church complex, with late night drinkers and drug users accessing the site.
The Rev Ken Robinson lives in the adjacent manse and is in charge of Thomas Street and Epworth Churches. He said, “When the property firm Lisney had the ‘For Sale’ signs up, they acted responsibly and secured the site. The night-time revellers broke the wooden fence down occasionally, but Lisney always responded to our requests to renew the fence at the edge of our car park.
“To be fair, it isn’t Lisney’s responsibility anymore, but the fence has been kicked down at one particular place – adjacent to our car park – and the site is wide open, with mainly teenagers using it.
“Drinking, drug-taking and noise are the problems, on top of it being a total eyesore. We have asked Lisney to put us in touch with the new owners, or get them to contact us, so that we can resolve the issue. But they refuse to do so.
“Only last weekend, someone kicked the opening in the fence bigger, and there was a Saturday night shindig inside the structure. It’s a half-built mess and does little to enhance the area.
“In the short term, we want the fence permanently repaired, just as Hamill’s Chemists have built a strong defence at their side of the site, which makes access from there virtually impossible.
“In the short term, we want the new owners to secure the fence and in the long term we want them to finish the development of this chronic eyesore. It’s for the general good of the town, and it’s unfair to the church.
“I’ve recently found syringes and drink cans and bottles in our car park, and spoken to the young people – most are in their early teens. The police have been very helpful. But we want the problem resolved permanently. We don’t know whether the new owner is going to act now or it’s simply an investment. This could go on for years.”
The flats were among a number of properties owned by the Thornton Trust, which collapsed in 2010. Lisney managed to sell off the main buildings – the premises beside the High Street Mall, the old Wellworth’s store and the former Thornton Wholesale building at Thomas Street.
The Hair Academy moved in at High Street, Wellworth’s store has been taken over by Toymaster and there are plans for the Thornton premises. Lisney said the flats had long been sold and the owners must make them secure.
A spokesman for Lisney said they had passed on the details of the flats to the new owners and it was their responsibility to act.