'I refuse to move from my condemned flat - I won't be left skint'

Nick Wisniewski has been locked in a battle with North Lanarkshire Council over his flat in Gowkthrapple - which is now the focus of a new documentary.

Documentary Exile on Stanhope Place follows last person living in abandoned North Lanarkshire housing estate Ryan Pollock via Supplied

A filmmaker has released a documentary about the last person living on a condemned housing estate in North Lanarkshire.

Exile on Stanhope Place, directed by Ryan Pollock, focuses on retiree Nick Wisniewski, who is the sole resident of a 128-block flat in Gowkthrapple, Wishaw.

The 67-year-old has been locked in a two-year battle with North Lanarkshire Council over his two-bedroom flat, and has turned down numerous offers for its sale.

Nick bought the property under the Right to Buy scheme 22 years ago, and says that owning it gave him security due to the fact he didn’t have to pay a mortgage following his retirement.

The council, who want to re-develop the estate, have since applied for a Compulsory Purchase Order to forcibly remove him from his home.

Nick Wisniewski has lived in Gowkthrapple for 22 years.
Nick is locked in a battle with North Lanarkshire Council.

Nick, a retired bank worker, was originally offered £35,000 for the flat, which increased to £40,000, and the 15 minute film shows him going for his first discussions in over a year with officials.

He said: “I bought the flat so that if anything happened to my son when I’m not here, he’d have a roof over his head, but that safety is obviously gone now.

“I also bought it to save me paying rent after retirement, but now because the council have decided to go ahead with these redevelopment plans, I’m suddenly expected to start paying rent again, why should I? I’m not prepared to leave myself skint.”

Director Ryan Pollock, who lives in Wishaw and has strong familial ties to the housing estate, said the “injustice was too important to ignore”.

Nick may be forced from his home.

He said: “My roots are in Gowkthrapple, and I still live round the corner from Nick, so there’s a lot of personal connection to this situation for me.

“I’m a dramatist before a documentary maker, and I tend more towards fictional filmmaking, but I felt this injustice was just too important to ignore.

“I’m hoping to make some noise about what’s going on and bring the community’s attention to it, because I think it’s an indictment on our country that a pensioner is being treated like this and will remain so until he gets a fair deal.”

Exit on Stanhope Place was funded by film charity; One Small Barking Dog, who are based in Exeter.

North Lanarkshire Council confirmed they are progressing with the demolition of the area, and are continuing to “explore options” for alternative housing Nick.

A spokesperson said: “Our contractors are progressing with the demolition of low-rise blocks as part of our ambitious plans to transform this area of Gowkthrapple.

“We continue to explore all options available to provide Mr Wisniewski with suitable alternative housing, to try to avoid the need to use a Compulsory Purchase Order.”

Gowkthrapple, Wishaw.
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