I have followed with growing interest the debate in the aj on tower blocks, and the constant reference to Erno Goldfinger's Trellick Tower.
In other newspapers and journals, writers are seeking to identify some 'quick-fix', and Sam Webb (aj 20.5.99) is right to warn of this.
I have had the responsibility of managing and maintaining Trellick Tower for nearly 20 years. A quarter of Kensington and Chelsea's Council Housing stock of 9,500 homes is over 10 storeys, and our method of delivery for landlord services is consistent, and, dare I say, old-fashioned.
Because of housing pressure, more than 50 per cent of our lettings go to the statutory homeless. We concentrate on security (25 per cent of the stock now has 24-hour concierge and cctv), maintenance and tenant empowerment through the local residents associations (we have 59), and, above all, long-term consistent policies to tackle the issues of anti- social behaviour. We are reasonably successful, and aim to maintain quiet peace and enjoyment for our tenants and leaseholders. Nevertheless, we do have problems.
Your debate focuses on tower blocks. In my experience of more than 30 years, deck access estates are far more difficult to manage, but that debate is for another day. Kensington and Chelsea has never demolished a tower block, and the Tenant Management Organisation (a housing company owned by tenants) and the council work hard at putting the residents first.
Paul Hyett (6.5.99) fails to mention that Erno Goldfinger was briefed to design Trellick Tower for social housing at a time when drug dealing was unheard of. However, Goldfinger would have understood my problems in managing multi-tenure social housing with budget cuts and rent capping. Nevertheless, his design has stood the test of time and changes in social housing.
Martyn Kingsford, chief executive, Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation