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

THE taking-down of two ‘unsafe’ tower blocks in Portsmouth will begin in the next couple of months as plans to regenerate part of the city centre press ahead.

Portsmouth City Council has revealed work to take down Leamington and Horatia House, in Somers Town, piece by piece will start between April and May this year - with the whole process expected to take 12 months at a cost of up to £10m.

The 1960s structures were found to be unsafe in 2018 after work to remove Grenfell-style cladding from their exteriors revealed weaknesses in the concrete.

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'Ambitious' plans to build 440 new homes on site of Horatia House and Leamington...
Leamington House. Picture: Sarah Standing (170831-4086)

Since then all 272 households were moved to new homes, and plans were agreed to de-construct - rather than demolish - the towers and build up to 440 new dwellings on the sites.

The council's housing boss, Councillor Darren Sanders said: 'It's really positive that we are finally able to have a date to say something will happen with these sites.

'We are very keen to make sure what goes up at the site providers a brighter future for people in Somers Town and the city.'

To build on suggestions made by residents during previous engagement sessions, two Horatia and Leamington Community Panel events will be held to gather feedback from local people, former residents of the blocks, schools, charities and businesses about the new developments.

Portsmouth City Council housing cabinet member Councillor Darren Sanders outside Horatia House in Portsmouth. Picture: Malcolm Wells

'At the first meeting the group will discuss how members will be involved in the project from beginning to end,' Cllr Sanders said.

'We'll also go through the contents of the information pack and give people the opportunity to ask questions of the project team and architects.'

Housing activist and councillor, Cal Corkery, previously lobbied for community involvement.

He said: 'I think the creation of the community panel is definitely a step in the right direction although it remains to be seen how much power they will have.'

Leamington House and Horatia House in Somers Town which will be de-constructed over the next year to make way for a new development. Picture: Portsmouth City Council

Within an information pack delivered to 1,500 homes in the area it stated that the main objectives of the new developments will be to provide new high quality homes and a green, sustainable neighbourhood.

It also suggested a mix of affordable and private homes could be provided, as well as some 'taller buildings.'

Cllr Corkery added: 'I do wonder if some of the firm commitments could end up watered down though.

'Originally we were told residents didn't want tower blocks again so there wouldn't be any but in the latest information it suggests there could be tall buildings, just not in the style of 1960s towers.

'And will the 272 homes be rented as social or affordable? Because an affordable rate will be higher than the social rents that were there before.'

Once a contractor is chosen to carry out the de-construction process further details about the impact of the work will be shared.

Council officers confirmed initial work to strip the insides of the buildings wouldn't have any impact on peregrine falcons if they return to Horatia House to nest - after they were spotted at the site last year.

To join the community panel call 023 9284 1791 or email [email protected]

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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