Portsmouth Towerblocks Could Be Demolished Not Repaired

18 February 2019, 15:48 | Updated: 18 February 2019, 16:10

Leamington House

Portsmouth city council's planning to demolish and replace two 18-story tower blocks because refurbing them would cost too much.

A report recommending future options for Leamington House and Horatia House in the Somerstown area is due to be considered by a special meeting of the council's Cabinet at 9am on 26 February 2019.

Exterior cladding was removed from them following the Grenfell tragedy. The council then carried out detailed building surveys on the two buildings whilst looking into suitable replacement cladding.

These surveys revealed that there were problems with the original 1960s concrete construction of the blocks which were built using a large concrete panel system.

Additional safety measures were out in place and residents were consulted to find them suitable alternative accommodation.

The council's aiming to have all residents of the blocks moved out this Spring.

Feasibility studies have also been carried out to understand what the future options might be for the blocks, including estimates for the cost of repairs.

Investigations have shown that, because of the way the buildings were constructed in the 1960s, the work needed to repair the two buildings is significant and would be very expensive. It would also only provide around 30 years further to their lifespan, which would mean further extensive works in the future. It is estimated that it would cost around £86M to strengthen the two blocks.

What happens next will be decided by Portsmouth City Council's Cabinet.

One of the options that will be considered is deconstructing the blocks and using the opportunity to redevelop the site to create more affordable and social housing. The report also states the commitment of the Council's political administration that any future plans for the blocks must include at least 272 socially-rented homes, the same number as exist now.

The council says it will work with residents and the wider community in Somerstown to make sure local people are fully involved and have a part in any future plans to shape the area.

Portsmouth City Council's Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Darren Sanders said:

"I'm pleased that we're finally in a position to begin moving forwards with Leamington and Horatia. Residents have been moved from these blocks twice in the past 20 years and re-strengthening the buildings at an enormous expense would only provide us with a further 30 years of use. That's simply not in the best interests of the council or the residents. We want to this situation to provide long-term housing solutions, not sticking plasters."

"Selling the sites for student or similar accommodation is absolutely not an option. It's not acceptable when people across the city are crying out for homes they can afford. That's why we want any plan to include at least as many socially-rented homes as exist now. It is also why our focus is working with the residents of Somerstown themselves to shape their area to meet their needs."