Residents told to leave ‘unsafe’ Portsmouth tower blocks will be found new homes, council says

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PORTSMOUTH City Council is confident that new homes will be found for residents of two Somerstown buildings that were declared unsafe.

At yesterday’s housing meeting officers reported that it would be possible to rehome around 800 residents of Horatia House and Leamington House by spring 2019, with many already in the process of moving.

Leamington House in Portsmouth

Leamington House in Portsmouth

The blocks were deemed not safe after decladding works revealed structual instabilities in the concrete last month.

Of the buildings’ 252 occupied flats, 54 households are on their way to being given new properties with half of them already accepting their new homes.

James Hill, the council’s housing director, explained the current situation. He said: ‘We have started to match properties as they become available.

‘In the towers there are 272 flats altogether. When we told residents about the evacutation on June 4, 252 of these were occupied.

‘28 have been made offers and are going through arrangements to view their properties. 26 households have been made an offer, viewed their properties and accepted the offer and moves are now being planned with them. The first move is due to take place on July 20.’

As part of the evacuation process residents were asked for a list of places they would like to live. 201 households said they want to remain in the city south area and 78 wanted to stay in Somerstown or the surrounding areas.

18 were hoping to be moved out of the city to places like Leigh Park and Wecock Farm and eight said they wanted to go to the city north such as Cosham or Paulsgrove.

There were concerns that rehousing more than 800 people would lead to a shortage in social housing across the city.

Mr Hill said: ‘The social housing that Portsmouth City Council holds is about 14,900 properties. On average per year that generates about 900 voids which are available to us.

‘We are trying hard to limit the impact but I can’t deny that for those currently on the housing list there may be a longer wait.’

But housing boss, Cllr Darren Sanders, was positive the council had acted correctly.

He added: ‘As everyone has said this was unexpected. I was expecting a recladding job and I was expecting only this. But doing nothing is not an option. There has been broad understanding and patience from the residents about this.’