‘Abandoned’ on a remote mountainside – the UK estate with a notorious reputation

People who live in the isolated estate of Penrhys, Wales – the fourth most deprived community in the country – claim they have been abandoned and left "out of sight and out of mind".

Overlooking the rest of the Rhondda valley at 1,170ft, Penrhys boasts stunning views. But, when you turn around, you can see disused, abandoned and tattered blocks of flats and houses.

The estate only has one shop, one takeaway and a church. Repeated spells of vandalism has seen the children's play park locked up, and the nearest doctors surgery is accessible only by bus or car, reports WalesOnline.

Residents who are proud of their home say they feel "neglected" and that more should be done to support them.

Ashley Rees has lived on the estate all his life and volunteers at the Llanfair church, the community hub where after-school clubs are held.

He said: "People still think of Penrhys as it used to be, rough. It was, but you won't find community spirit anywhere else like you do here. In the snow people were out knocking doors asking if people needed anything.

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"That's the only time being up on a hillside is a problem but everyone was out on their quads and in their jeeps helping others."

Developed in the late 1960s, Penrhys consisted of 951 houses built on 61-acres which was the largest public sector housing site in Wales at that time. It was built on the site of a former monastery which became an important centre for pilgrimage.

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Ivor Williams has lived on the site since it was first built – he moved here aged 10 in 1969. He said: "This place used to have a massive problem with drugs, there was always trouble, it was wild here. It isn't like that anymore, it's a community, everyone knows everyone and everyone wants to help each other.

"The thing that lets it down now is the site, not the people, the state of the buildings and the fact that the only things here are a corner shop, takeaway and church. You can't blame the people anymore, when this is what they've got to work with."

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Over the years the site has shrunk in size from the 951 homes that were opened here in the late 1960s. In the 1990s the demolition of many of the buildings took place and some of the remaining properties were refurbished.

Ron Belmont has lived on the site for over 40 years. He said: "Years ago you used to have to fight your way in to the pub, quite rightly back then Penrhys had a name for itself, there was so much drugs up here and so much trouble. When you would eventually get in to the pub, there would be people in there with crossbows shooting and bats.

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"Still to this day there is nothing here for the kids, the park has been padlocked for vandalism, nothing gets done to make it better, we've been left to ourselves up here. I've worked on a number of sites over my time but this is by far the worst, you open the blinds in the morning and you just see these stinking houses in front of you.

"Even though this is my home, and where I've lived for 40 years, if they asked me to leave, I'd leave tomorrow."

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The park on Penrhys has been padlocked from every entrance with a sign attached to the gates that reads: 'This play area is closed to vandalism.'

Buffy Williams, MS for the Rhondda said: "Over the years, Penrhys has slowly become a household name in Rhondda for all the wrong reasons. We see and hear stories of old, especially from the media, of drink, drugs, anti- social behaviour, you name it. If there’s a crime to be committed in Rhondda, it’s as if we’ve been wired to assume it’s Penrhys.

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"The reality is, there is no more or less trouble in Penrhys than other communities in Rhondda, but that’s not to say the community doesn’t have its challenges.

"For too long, many have believed and fuelled the negative perception of the estate with no good reason to do so. Penrhys to me is a warm, welcoming community who look out for each other."

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