Portsmouth tower blocks Leamington House and Horatia House to be torn down as concrete is too weak and repair work would cost £86m

TWO landmark Portsmouth towers are likely to be torn down after it was revealed work to make them safe would cost upward of £86m.

Monday, 18th February 2019, 1:08 pm
Updated Monday, 18th February 2019, 2:10 pm
Leamington House. Picture: Sarah Standing (170831-4086)

The council is set to rubber-stamp plans to de-construct Leamington House and Horatia House in Somers Town rather than approve costly repairs to the buildings' concrete.

In their place it is proposed at least 272 new social homes will be built, replacing those lost.

It comes after work to remove Grenfell-style cladding from the 1960s towers showed weaknesses in the structures' concrete. Although repairs were deemed possible a recent report focusing on the detail of work needed proved this would not be financially viable.

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Leamington House. Picture: Sarah Standing (170831-4086)

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For Portsmouth City Council's head of housing, Councillor Darren Sanders, the removal of the buildings was the best option going forward. 'I'm pleased that we're finally in a position to begin moving forwards with Leamington and Horatia,' he said.

'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.'

Councillor Darren Sanders at Leamington House

When the initial report raised fears about the towers' safety in June last year around 800 residents were told they had to be rehoused. Currently 50 households remain the towers, 37 of which have been found new homes.

It is thought all the residents will be moved out by spring this year.

If the plans are approved the council will go to a public consultation to decide what type of housing can be built on the towers' sites.

Cllr Sanders added: '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 Somers Town themselves to shape their area to meet their needs.'

The cost of de-constructing the buildings will be between £5-£6m.

Plans will go to cabinet on February 26.