The tallest remaining tower block built using the controversial large panel construction system used on Ronan Point has been earmarked for demolition
Proposals have been put forward to flatten Goscote House, a 23-storey residential high-rise in Leicester, due to fears over the building’s ‘ongoing structural stability’.
According to a new report to the council’s assistant mayor for housing, the structural integrity of the tower’s concrete frame ’cannot be guaranteed for longer than five years’.
The tower, which contains 124 flats, was built in the 1970s by Taylor Woodrow Anglian.
The firm also constructed Ronan Point, the 22-storey tower block in east London which partially collapsed in a gas explosion in 1968, just weeks after it opened, killing four people.
Goscote house Source: WYG Consulting
Ronan Point was built using the Large Panel System (LPS) technique, which involves off-site prefabrication of concrete sections which, when assembled on site, rest one upon the other, held together only by their own weight.
Tower blocks across the country have been the focus of fire safety reviews since the Grenfell fire last June.
Retired architect and fire safety expert Sam Webb said tower blocks constructed using the LPS technique were all ‘exactly the same’ and that he welcomed local authorities decommissioning the buildings.
He said: ’They are just concrete panels that rely on gravity holding them together. If one part fails, you get progressive collapse. This is something that has been covered up for 50 years and we’ve been extremely lucky that a catastrophe hasn’t happened in one of these buildings.’
’The individual panels themselves are strong but it is the joints that are the weakness of the system. It might be OK for a low-rise building, but it is not for a 23-storey tower.’
Initially, the council planned to give the tower a £6.5 million refurbishment and retrofit a new sprinkler system into the building.
But now councillors are expected to vote for plans to demolish the building for £3 million and either build new homes or sell the site on. The report estimates that the new cleared site would be worth £1.2 million.
Leicester’s assistant mayor for housing, Cllr Andy Connelly, said that Goscote House was built when ‘housing needs were very different’ and bringing it up to modern standards would require significant investment.
’The structural reports are telling us that the building is reaching the end of its life span, so we’re faced with a decision: spend money on it now to hopefully get a few more years’ worth of use, or stop and concentrate on re-homing tenants in more suitable, alternative accommodation.
Connelly said ‘ideally’ he would like to see the site redeveloped for social housing in the future.
A formal decision is due in early April with demolition not expected to take place until at least April 2019.
Top image by Nico Hogg