Two families living in Portsmouth tower blocks a year after they were ruled 'unsafe' - and 270 households have moved out

Cladding was removed from Horatia House and Leamington House in June 2017 following the Grenfell fire. A year later the block was ruled as unsafe due to structural weaknesses in the concrete. Pictured: Leamington House. Picture: Sarah Standing (170831-4086)
Cladding was removed from Horatia House and Leamington House in June 2017 following the Grenfell fire. A year later the block was ruled as unsafe due to structural weaknesses in the concrete. Pictured: Leamington House. Picture: Sarah Standing (170831-4086)
Share this article

TWO families have remained in city tower blocks deemed structurally unsafe for more than a year - and beyond the spring deadline to move out.

A major operation was launched in June last year to evacuate Leamington and Horatia House in Somers Town after it was ruled the 18-storey blocks were at risk of collapse due to structural weaknesses in concrete.

At a Portsmouth City Council meeting it was revealed 270 households from the blocks are now living in new council homes.

But two families remain - with them set to move to their new homes in the next two weeks.

Following this the process to deconstruct the 'unsafe' towers will begin, a meeting on Tuesday was told.

FLASHBACK: Tower blocks will be torn down after £86m repair estimate

Last June council officers predicted all 800 residents would be moved out by the spring of 2019.

Speaking at a housing and social care scrutiny panel meeting on Tuesday, Councillor Leo Madden questioned why there had been a delay. 'Didn't you predict it would take a year?' he said. 'Easter was what I had heard.

'But I do think the housing team has done a wonderful job. The point of this meeting is not just to say that's great but to find out if there were any difficulties you faced along the way.'

Officers explained that the two remaining households were offered new homes in the spring, but there had been a hold up in getting them ready.

James Hill, the council's director of housing, said: 'There was a point in time where we started to realise it would go beyond that date.

'But for some residents, for various reasons, that date went into the summer period.'

His colleague Jo Bennett, head of business growth, relationships and support, added: 'The people who are about to move have serious adaptive needs for their properties and serious physical needs.

'The properties needed to be properly adapted first.'

The evacuation process began after the removal Grenfell-style cladding from the towers revealed weaknesses.

Initially it was thought this would be a temporary measure, however, a report earlier this year concluded that the cost of repair would amount to £86m.

It was decided the towers would be deconstructed and 272 new council homes at social rents would be built on the sites.

A consultation on what the area should look like after the demolition has concluded.