Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Portsmouth tower blocks earmarked for demolition

Leamington House
Image caption Residents from all 136 flats in Leamington House are being moved out

Two tower blocks look set to be demolished after work to strengthen them was estimated to cost £86m.

Cladding was removed from Leamington House and Horatia House in Portsmouth following the Grenfell tragedy.

The work revealed the original 1960s concrete construction of the blocks was not strong enough.

Portsmouth City Council said the work would only add 30 years to the lifespan of the structures and "we don't think it is affordable to repair the blocks".

The authority, run as a Lib Dem minority administration, said the strengthening work on the two 18-storey blocks of flats would also take about five years to complete.

Lib Dem councillor Darren Sanders said: "We want this situation to provide long-term housing solutions, not sticking plasters."

Image caption The issue with the concrete was found during work to remove aluminium composite cladding

The 800 residents in all 272 flats in the two blocks are in the process of being moved out.

The authority said if the blocks are demolished the site would be used to create more affordable and social housing.

Any future plans for the blocks must include at least 272 socially rented homes, the same number as exist now, the council said.

Conservatives in the city claimed the costs had been overestimated in order to have residents removed from the blocks.

Tory group leader Donna Jones said the council was "on the verge of creating financial chaos as well as forcing people on to the council house waiting list".

But Portsmouth South Labour MP Stephen Morgan, who is also a city councillor, said he was "not surprised" the repair costs had escalated.

"Any future development should be on the basis that replacement homes are social and affordable.

"If the administration wants to be ambitious for our city, with the housing crisis we see, we must now start seeing a greater supply of decent quality, well-built homes for local people in the heart of our city," he added.

The proposals are due to be discussed on 26 February.

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