ELDERLY residents at a purpose-built retirement complex in the heart of St Ives say their homes are being "left to rot" by Penwith Housing Association.
The award-winning Penamayne Court development off Porthmeor Road is home to 33 pensioners.
But a number of them have hit out at owners PHA after they say faults and design flaws at the flats are putting elderly residents – including tenants with disabilities and special needs – at risk.
A visit to the complex revealed benches and other woodwork rotting and walkways and balconies covered in slippery green mould. Gutters were blocked and there were even puddles under covered walkways.
Resident Anne Humphrys said an elderly resident and a care visitor had already slipped and hurt themselves as a result.
Complaints include rainwater cascading down flat walls that were supposed to be under cover, no maintenance on flower beds, weed-covered paving, and particular problems for people with disabilities.
Angela Diggle said she had lived at the complex for ten years and had seen it deteriorate in recent years due to lack of maintenance, but that it was particularly bad for the less able-bodied.
She said: "There is a disabled lady living on the top floor.
"She has to get out of her wheelchair to open the front door. And then it is really hard to transfer onto the stairlift from a wheelchair."
Mike Gilleney said residents had been repeatedly promised work to remove mould and choking weeds from communal areas but nothing then happened.
He said a health and safety officer had visited at the residents' insistence and promised action on blocked gutters, leaky roofs and slippery walkways.
Mr Gilleney said: "They won an award for this, it's meant to be purpose-built for the elderly. It's not fit for purpose."
Sarah Spencer, whose 81-year-old mum Joan Preston lives at Penamayne, said residents' fears were being ignored.
She said: "I've begged PHA to do something about so many issues.
"If this was a nursing home it would have been shut down."
Residents are also unhappy that a warden service at the site, originally classified as sheltered housing, has been withdrawn by PHA.
A spokeswoman from Penwith Housing Association, part of Devon & Cornwall Housing, said: "We are extremely sorry for the problems being experienced by residents.
"This is an exceptional situation, falling below our normally very high standards."
PHA said it had met residents and were addressing the issues.
She said: "Much of the work is well under way already, including an upgrade to the door entry system, general repair work, safety checks of items such as the stairlift and stairwell, which meet current fire safety standards.
"We are about to begin the rest of the work.
"Weeding and power cleaning is scheduled to take place next week.
"There are a number of design features that we are currently reviewing and will make improvements where necessary in order to overcome some of the scheme issues that the residents are experiencing."