Leamington House resident fears replacement home is ‘unsuitable’

A DAD-of-two who has lived in Leamington House for 16 years has voiced concerns that replacement housing will not be big enough, despite Portsmouth City Council claiming it has offered 'like-for-like' accommodation.

When it was revealed in June that Somerstown towers Leamington House and Horatia House were structurally unstable the council informed their 800 residents that they would be re-homed.

Leamington House resident Dave Bean is concerned replacement housing will not be big enough for his family

Leamington House resident Dave Bean is concerned replacement housing will not be big enough for his family

The process is currently underway, but Dave Bean, 39, of 6 Leamington House is worried the replacement flat he has been offered in Handsworth House on Quinton Close is not suitable.

Dave, who is one of the owners of Keepers of the Peculiar on Victoria Road South, currently lives in a one-bedroom flat with his girlfriend which he pays rent for in full. His two children, aged 19 and eight, regularly stay with him and sleep on mattresses in the living room.

He said: 'They offered me another flat that was smaller than the one I was in. They said it would be like-for-like but it isn't. There will not be enough room for my children when they come to stay.'

Dave claimed he rejected the offer in the hope of finding somewhere bigger. 'I said that I didn't want to go and sent a letter which the council say they didn't receive,' he said.

'I am just trying to stand my ground. I've been in the house so long. I grew up in Portsmouth and have lived in Leamington since I was in my early twenties.

'It was upsetting when we were told we would have to move out. I found out on social media but other people found out before. The council went around knocking on people's doors. At first I was quite worried. I thought we were going to get kicked out and have nowhere to live.'

However, the council explained that the like-for-like system was based on the amount of bedrooms in a property.

The council's head of growth and support for housing, Jo Bennet, said: 'As we work closely with residents in the block we will be offering an alternate home in Portsmouth, which will be at least like-for-like in terms of the type of home and the number of bedrooms.

'This means, if you are living in a three-bedroom flat at the moment, we will offer at least a three-bedroom flat. Room sizes vary depending on the time a property was built, with older properties having larger rooms than newer ones.'

She added: 'The process of moving tenants into alternate accommodation has begun and we are making steady progress. Obviously this is a large scale task but we hope to have all tenants moved out of Leamington House by spring 2019.'

New homes for residents of Leamington and Horatia could also be a temporary fix, with the option to move back to their original flats once the repairs are carried out.

Dave said: 'I wasn't aware that it could be temporary. But unless I was found a bigger place I would want to go back.'