We live in 'ghost village' left empty after Commonwealth Games… it looks incredible but our area is a 'half-cooked meal' | The Sun

RESIDENTS who live in a "ghost village" left empty after the Commonwealth Games say it looks incredible but their area is "half-cooked".

Back in 2019, locals in a run-down suburb of Birmingham were promised 1,000 smart new apartments as part of the legacy of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

But four and a half years on, unhappy homeowners in Perry Barr are seething at the ghost village which dominates their skyline.  

For the four blocks, totalling 968 apartments, and new roads featuring names like Inspire Avenue remain fenced off and empty, with only one block completed and ready for sale. 

Support worker Dawn E Banks, 59, summed up the feelings of many in the area: "I see the blocks and I honestly thought people were living in there.

"I am shocked, it’s disgusting to have them standing empty when there are so many people homeless in this city. 

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"I know many people without anywhere to call their own and there needs to be some urgency."

Social worker Mark King, 52, agreed: "I walk past a lot and it is desolate, like a ghost village.  

"They have looked to be finished for at least a year now but nothing seems to happen. It makes no sense."

According to Shelter’s 2023 figures, Birmingham had 14,236 people living in temporary accommodation, including 8,312 children. 

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But for years now the site has stood empty and with the City Council facing a £1 billion financial crisis, it is not clear when the blocks will be functional. 

Built on a former Birmingham City University site, the original plan was for it to be the athletes’ village during the Games

However, Covid ended that idea and the athletes had to be housed in hotels, adding to the £778 million cost of playing host. 

Abdul Khan, 65, a property manager in the area, said: "This is our town centre and they look lovely apartments.

"Many of them have balconies but there is just no point in building something and leaving it empty.  

"The council needs money coming in and the One Stop Shopping Centre would also benefit with more customers.

"It’s like a half-cooked meal – no use to anyone and with Birmingham now bankrupt how long will it be left like this?"

Perry Barr, famous for its sports’ stadium which hosts speedway and greyhound racing, is less than 10 minutes to Birmingham city centre, on a bus route and with a train station. 

Most people agree that the apartment blocks look stylish and they sit directly across a main road from the Shopping Centre. 

Mum of three Ruhena Begum, 41, a shop worker, said: "We were all excited at the thought of these flats and watched them, month after month, as they were built. 

"It is such a waste to have them all empty. They look so good. So many people need rehousing and they would bring in a lot more people to the local shops."

Also looking on enviously at some of the most desirable dwellings in Perry Barr was Steven Shorthouse, 36, a landscape gardener. 

He said: "It is a brilliant location and it would be amazing to be in one of those flats. The views would be great.  

"I just don’t understand. We were told these would be for local people but no one is in there and most people will be priced out when they do come up. 

"The council don’t seem able to do anything. They can’t even fix the potholes. They need to start with them."

Local radio presenter King Romie, 45, said: "I remember going on Central News all excited at the thought of this athletes’ village in the area which would become good housing for the people of Perry Barr.  

"The area was starting to look nice, regeneration was coming but now it looks like a lot of money spent and a lot of money wasted.  

"They should have had athletes in them back in 2022 and now they are still empty when people are homeless and cold on the streets. It is a disgrace." 

Marketing manager Corina Georgescu, 28, was also horrified at the waste. 

"I moved in during 2020 and the area has improved but I am shocked no-one is living in all those blocks," she said.

"They look decent places to live."

Earlier this month, the estate agent Connells began marketing the first apartments in the only completed block at between £173,400 and £229.500. 

But insiders say the other three blocks are not close to completion and the only workers seen recently are a couple of security guards who patrol the site. 

Edward Poole, 81, a retired flat hammerer, said: "We walk past most days and have never seen anyone working on them. It is a complete waste of money. 

"It’s like the central library – they spent a fortune on that while cutting the local service. My local library is only open three days a week.  

"I’m afraid it’s another white elephant. Birmingham specializes in them." 

And machine operator Michael Collins, 65, said: "It is good the way they are trying to improve the area but they need to get them occupied. 

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"Birmingham City Council need money coming in and each of these could give them £700-a-month in rent. Why spend all that money and get nothing back."

The Sun has contacted Birmingham City Council for comment.

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