Portsmouth tower blocks: Leamington House and Horatia House residents speak of sadness at deconstruction plans

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LONG-TERM residents of two condemned Portsmouth tower blocks have spoken of their sadness at what they describe as 'the end of an era.'

The city council is set to approve the ‘deconstruction’ of Leamington House and Horatia House in Somers Town after a report revealed essential repairs would cost around £86m.

Leamington House

Leamington House

It came after the removal of Grenfell-style cladding in 2017 revealed structural weaknesses in the concrete.

Since last June most of the blocks' 272 households have been relocated to other social housing across the city and in Leigh Park.

But for the remaining 50, the high-rises, that were both built in 1965, have become akin to 'ghost towns.'

Stacey Hammond, 25, who has lived in Leamington House since she was a child, said: 'We only just received a letter saying about it – I was horrified and shocked.

'We didn't know what was going to happen before we got the letter. We just knew we would have to move at some point because of the building.

'It is sad as I've lived here since I was two years old. My mum's grandparents lived and died here, and other members of my family have lived here.

'It's been like a ghost town recently since most people have moved out.'

Mum-of-two Anna Ziomek, 39, shared Stacey's shock. 'I cried when I got the letter,' she said.

'It is very sad and came as a shock when I received the letter which just said they are having to take it down because it is too expensive to repair with it costing £86m.

'I'm not happy about it. I've just been told I will have to move to a house in North End.'

But her neighbour Jo Symonds, 51, who has lived there for 17 years, added:

'People can't be dissatisfied as they have been kept informed all the way through by the council who have dealt with it well.

'Residents have been given a sum of money for the inconvenience and some are moving into places with gardens now which they didn't have before.

'When we found out the building might be unsafe it caused a lot of trauma for my son so it will be better to move.'

The council's housing boss, Councillor Darren Sanders, explained some of the options going forward. He said: ‘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 deconstructing the buildings will be between £5m and £6m.

Plans will go to cabinet on February 26.