Council delays in redeveloping one of Epsom's most deprived areas are "absolutely disgusting" and are fuelling an increase in crime, according to its councillors.
Epsom's Court ward councillor Sheila Carlson believes a lack of urgency in the redevelopment of a dilapidated row of shops and flats in Hollymoor Lane, on the Longmead Estate, in Epsom, has left the area "steadily declining" and led to an increase in crime.
The site has been earmarked for redevelopment with social and affordable housing for years, with plans to keep the existing convenience store on-site and adding a doctor’s surgery.
But work has still not begun on the project.
Coun Carlson said: "It’s absolutely disgusting. This has been going on for at least five years. It’s a really dangerous situation. Somebody could be seriously injured or killed."
She said the empty buildings have led to youngsters "messing around" and that an incident last month in which "kids broke into one of the properties and set fire to it" was particularly concerning.
Fellow court ward councillor Rob Geleit said the estate’s shops were "secured against vandalism" last week.
Their windows have been boarded-up, rubbish cleared and the interiors of vacant buildings emptied to prevent items being set alight. But he still believes that urgent action is required.
Epsom’s Neighbourhood Inspector Craig Knight said that while anti-social behaviour has risen on the estate in the last four months, it has not been a "dramatic increase".
He said the incident involving "kids setting fire to a toilet basin in a disused property" was further down the road from the shops.
Inspector Knight said: "We have put more resources into policing the area and levels are beginning to fall.
"It doesn’t help for these buildings to remain looking as they do as it can increase fear and perception of crime.
"It needs redevelopment, but that’s an ongoing process which is not to do with the police."
A council spokesman said that it expects to have a development partner "in place early in the New Year and to start construction next summer".
He added: "40 organisations have requested details to become the developer. These organisations will be invited to tender for the opportunity."