Tearful Somerstown residents watch as first piece is removed from condemned Horatia House tower block

TEARFUL former residents of a condemned tower block have described their emotions as they watched a crane lift the first panel away from the high-rise.

By Tom Cotterill
Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 4:55 am
Cllr Darren Sanders watches the first panel arrive at ground level with former Horatia House residents (from left) Elaine and Natasha Tupper and Tara Kennan
Cllr Darren Sanders watches the first panel arrive at ground level with former Horatia House residents (from left) Elaine and Natasha Tupper and Tara Kennan

Horatia House was earmarked for demolition after being branded unsafe in 2018 after work to remove flammable cladding revealed weaknesses in the building’s concrete structure.

Hundreds of residents were evacuated from the tower block, and the neighbouring building Leamington House – which also suffered from the same fault.

Demolition work to finally take down Horatia began last year, with the latest phase in the project coming this week.

The council team on the roof of Horatia House with the first panel ready to be removed (from left) Meredydd Hughes, Amy Holmes, David Johnson and Steve Groves

‘I wasn't going to get all emotional but I can't help it,’ said Tara Keenan, who lived for nine years in the 1960s Meriden Road building.

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Work to start on taking down Horatia and Leamington House towers in Portsmouth

Tara had to be rehoused, along with more than 250 other households, living in Horatia and next door Leamington House, so that Portsmouth City Council could take the buildings down piece by piece.

Elaine Tupper and her daughter Natasha also lived in Horatia House for 13 years, moving in when Natasha was two-years-old.

Elaine said: ‘We hope to see more affordable housing for council tenants – private tenants as well. We want to see more green space; more play spaces – especially for the children who live in the local area.’

Natasha, 17, added: ‘Seeing this area being reconstructed is quite a nice thing to see. I just hope it brings more people to Portsmouth because it's a nice area - you just don't get to see very much of it.’

The latest phase in the project was also witnessed by Councillor Darren Sanders, who said: ‘This is really quite emotional for me – my mum lived in this block for 13 years.’

The cabinet member for housing and preventing homelessness added: ‘This is a really important step for us – it actually says that we are starting to take these blocks down.

‘We want to try to replace the blocks with something that is better; that will attract people to our city.

‘We want to build homes that are green for people to live in, that are cheap for people to live in and, most importantly of all, that are good for people to live in.’

The project to bring down the blocks is progressing well, the council said, and is due to be completed in the second half of next year.

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