Portsmouth tower blocks: Council says there is potential for more homes than before on site of Horatia House and Leamington House 

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TWO high-rise blocks in the city earmarked for deconstruction could make way for more than 440 homes as part of a multi-million-pound development.

Portsmouth councillors are set to approve the demolition of Leamington House and Horatia House in Somers Town next week after a report showed it would not be financially viable to refurbish them to a safe standard.

This decision could be followed by a request to provide a more detailed report on future options for the land following consultations with the public and stakeholders.

As part of the most recent report that condemned the buildings consultants Wilde Carter Clack Ltd concluded that a total of 441 new homes could be built on the sites at a cost of £71m.

In a basic drawing the group showed how four new blocks could be constructed where the towers once stood, as well as on their adjacent car parks. However, plans for the area will not be formerly looked at until the buildings' deconstruction is approved.

Portsmouth council has said that if new homes are built at least 272 homes will be used as social housing, replacing the exact number lost in Leamington and Horatia.

For the council's head of housing, Councillor Darren Sanders, this was key. He said: 'People are crying out for good homes that they can afford.

'We would provide at least 272 social homes, with the potential for more. That's really important to us.'

Around 800 residents of the towers were told they would have to be re-homed after work to remove Grenfell-style cladding exposed weaknesses in the concrete. The most recent report found that repairs would cost around £86m and only last 30 years.

Cllr Sanders added: 'We have done the best thing by the residents by putting their safety first. Safety has to come before profit.

'Now we can start looking at the future of the area and make sure we provide something for the longer term, not just a sticking plaster.

'We want to work with local people about what they want to happen, not just us telling them.'

Plans to include social housing in the potential new development were welcomed by other parties.

Labour Cllr Judith Smyth said: 'I absolutely agree with that. Provided that the sites are used for genuinely affordable housing, ideally council housing, I think it's a really good idea. It's a sensible decision.'

Independent Cllr Claire Udy agreed. 'The cabinet report wants 272 social homes and I want like for like so I’m happy,' she said.

'Even if additional homes on the site aren't for social use that's good. Mixed communities are so important. Ensuring the return of these mixed communities, instead of running the risk of ghettoising, could be a real boost for everyone who lives in the area.

'Just make sure there are no separate entrances for social and private tenants - 'poor doors' or I will kick off.'

A decision on the towers will be made at a cabinet meeting on February 26.