Rounds Gardens tower blocks recommended for dismantling
THE high-rise blocks at Rounds Gardens could be replaced with new council housing.
Councillors in Rugby are to be asked to approve a recommendation that would see all tenants who live in the three multi-storey blocks at Rounds Gardens given alternative homes. A target date to move residents out ready to dismantle the towers has been set for the end of March 2022. Qualifying tenants who have to move to new homes will be entitled to statutory payments to compensate them for the loss of their home, along with further discretionary payments to help cover reasonable costs.
15 of the 221 flats at Rounds Gardens are currently vacant. 29 are being used as temporary accommodation and 18 are used for supported accommodation.
Survey work carried out to understand future maintenance needs had found that floors and walls vary in thickness across their length. Additional work carried out with the Buildings Research Establishment found that, even if intrusive samples were taken from every panel, the strength of the building could not be accurately modelled and that any remedial work would not guarantee the long-term integrity of the building. Poor insulation and the use of electric heating would mean that even if refurbished the blocks would be prone to damp and difficult to heat, meaning they are beyond economic repair.
As part of the council’s commitment to tenant safety, work to provide automatic fire alarm systems until the blocks are decommissioned is currently underway and on schedule to be completed this Spring, in line with a recommendation from Warwickshire Fire and Rescue service.
Regeneration of the site with new council housing is estimated to cost around £28million, subject to site survey and the scheme specification. Together with the programme to replace the two blocks at Biart Place approved by councillors in September 2018, the cost to the council’s Housing Capital programme could reach £60million.
Cllr Michael Stokes, Leader of Rugby Borough Council, said: “The multi-storey blocks at Rounds Gardens and at Biart Place have stood safely since they were built around fifty years ago, but it is disappointing to find that the build quality at both sites, even though built by different contractors, has been poor.
While we never wanted to be in the position of regenerating two town centre sites, we now have an opportunity to provide brand new, high quality council housing that better meets the needs of current and future tenants.
“The total costs for both sites is substantial at around £60million, and I am grateful that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is considering what help the government could provide to mitigate this impact. Whatever their decision, the safety and security of our tenants must remain our top priority.”
Cllr Emma Crane, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for communities and homes, said: “Our tenants will understandably be concerned about where they will live and when they will have to move.
We have kept tenants updated throughout the survey work and have written to each household explaining the next steps. Moving so many people and providing accommodation that meets their individual needs will not be easy, but we are committed to meeting our responsibilities in the same way that we did for tenants at Biart Place.”
Residents of Rounds Gardens have received a hand-delivered letter about the proposals, or can call 533632 to speak to the project team.
The agenda and reports for the meeting to be held on 5 February 2019 can be found at www.rugby.gov.uk/highrise.