Birmingham & Black Country

Apology over plans to demolish Druids Heath tower blocks

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionTower block living: We're not slum people

Residents have received an apology over plans to demolish five tower blocks in Birmingham.

A £43m plan to demolish the Druids Heath blocks to make way for 250 homes, were described as akin to "social cleansing", by residents.

They also said their wishes had been ignored by the city council.

At a public meeting on Tuesday council leader Ian Ward said the plan will be stopped while it works with the community on a solution.

Image caption The area's 15 tower blocks, which were built in the 1960s, have fallen into disrepair, the local authority said

Residents said they hoped the council would be "true to their words".

Hillcroft, Kingswood, Barratts and Saxelby tower blocks were set to be demolished along with Brookpiece tower, while residents had already left Heath House and been dispersed across the city in preparation for its demolition.

Residents said they still want the blocks brought down, but were angry that they felt they had no input in the scheme, and were concerned there would not be enough social housing for some people to return.

Analysis: Kathryn Stanczyszyn, BBC Radio WM political reporter

The message at the public meeting was clear. You've ignored us.

One woman said she felt as though Druid's Heath was being treated like 'council fodder' - another said the plans would rip the heart out of a community.

The main concerns fall into two categories - that proper provision hasn't been made to temporarily house residents nearby whilst work is under way, and that there won't be enough social housing to come back to.

It's very unusual for a council leader to talk about ripping up the plan and starting again but it was clear the blame was being laid at the door of officers for failing to communicate adequately with residents.

But it was made clear any new plan has to be looked at in the context of the existing budget. The devil will be in the detail, and how much can actually be changed remains to be seen.

Tamika Gill, head of the residents' association said: "It is a gentrification at the end of the day, because if you're not involving residents and you're not building one or two bedrooms from people who are coming out of one and two bedrooms, and you're only building three and four, that simply means you are cleansing us out."

Image caption Tamika Gill, with a list of demands to the council, said the pledge by Ian Ward was a "starting point"

"The people in this community feel the council has had an agenda and done things to people rather than trying to come up with a solution in partnership with the local community," Mr Ward said.

"And if that is how people feel, we clearly owe them an apology."

Ms Gill said: "I think it was a starting point, hopefully they will be true to their words."

Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites