Portsmouth tower blocks: Everything you need to know about the end of Leamington House and Horatia House

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FOLLOWING the news that two towers in Somers Town could be torn down Portsmouth City Council has provided answers to some frequently asked questions. Here is what the council has put together.

What is happening now with Leamington House and Horatia House?

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

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

As you know, cladding was removed from Leamington House and Horatia House following the Grenfell tragedy. We then found problems with the original 1960s concrete construction of the blocks during the detailed building surveys, which were carried out while we were looking for a suitable replacement for cladding. As a result, we put additional safety measures in place and started the process of moving residents to new homes.

READ MORE: Leamington House and Horatia House to be torn down

While we have been finding new homes for residents, we have also been doing a lot of work to understand what the future options might be for the blocks. This has meant doing more survey work, and starting to get estimates for the cost of repairs.

What have you found out?

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

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

Our investigations have shown that, because of the way the buildings were
constructed in the 1960s from large concrete panels, the work needed to repair Horatia and Leamington is significant and would be very expensive.

READ MORE: This is why the tower blocks will be taken down rather than demolished 

How much will it cost to repair the buildings and how long would it take?

It is estimated that it would cost around £86m to strengthen the two blocks and the work would take as much as five years. The estimated costs mean we don't think it is affordable for the council to repair the blocks.

READ MORE: Live updates and reaction as future of Portsmouth tower blocks announced 

What will happen next?

What happens next is a decision for the council's cabinet and a report has been written explaining the current situation and making recommendations. The report will be available for you to read on the council's website, along with additional information for residents, former residents and those living nearby.

Go to https://www.portsmouth.gov.uk/ext/housing/leamington-house-
and-horatia-house and follow the link to the report.

What options are being considered?

The report recommends we look at future options for redeveloping the site to create new affordable and social housing, working with residents in Somers Town to make sure the local community is involved.

Will this mean fewer council homes in the future?

No. The council has already made a commitment to making sure at least as many council homes are available in the area in the future as are in the two blocks at the moment.

Will the blocks be sold off for student flats?

No. The council is committed to making sure there is affordable and social housing for local people in this area, including at least as many council properties as are in the two blocks at the moment. The blocks will not be sold-off for student flats.

Will we be involved in what happens to the area?

Whatever decision is taken, the council will work with residents and the wider
community in Somers Town to make sure local people are fully involved in the future plans for Leamington House and Horatia House.

When will a decision be made?

The cabinet is expected to make a decision when it meets on February 26, at 9am.

How can I find out more?
You can find more information on the council website at
https://www.portsmouth.gov.uk/ext/housing/leamington-house-and-horatia-house

Is it still safe for residents still living in the two blocks to remain?

Absolutely. The structures are safe for residents to remain in whilst we continue to move residents out into alternative accommodation.

When do you plan to have all residents moved?

We are on schedule to have all residents moved out in spring 2019.

What will happen to the two blocks once residents have moved out?

Once empty, both blocks will be secured and a security presence will remain to
make sure the blocks are kept safe.

What about the residents who said they wanted to come back to the blocks in the future if that was possible?

Although we won't know what the future of the blocks will be until after the
recommendations have been discussed by cabinet, refurbishing the blocks is not financially viable. We will continue to communicate with the residents who have said they would like to return in the future, and once we know what will be happening we will talk to them about the options available.