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Portsmouth residents to leave large panel system blocks following safety concerns

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Residents are to be moved out of two Portsmouth tower blocks built using the large panel system (LPS) construction method due to safety concerns

The council has taken the decision to move all 800 residents out of two 18-storey blocks, Leamington House and Horatia House, after structural surveys revealed the concrete was ‘not as strong as expected’. 

The towers had recently had aluminium composite cladding removed after it was identified as a fire risk in tests in the wake of the Grenfell Fire. 

The two towers were built in 1965 using the LPS method, whereby prefabricated concrete sections are assembled on site, resting upon each other and only held together by their own weight.

The type of system used in the Portsmouth blocks is the Bison method – the same used at two high-rises in Rugby where residents were moved out in April following safety fears.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Ronan Point disaster in east London, where an LPS tower partially collapsed in a gas explosion, killing four people.

LPS blocks were supposed to have been strengthened in the 1970s, but more recent checks carried out in the wake of Grenfell have revealed a number of issues with high-rises across the country.

On the Ledbury Estate in Peckham, it emerged that four towers still had gas connected and have not been strengthened to the required standard.

The Ledbury Action Group, launched by residents to raise awareness of the safety issues surrounding the LPS method, has warned that the Ronan Point disaster could easily be repeated unless action is taken. 

The group has called on the government to set up a ’dedicated body’ to address the issue.

The residents in the 272 flats will be moved out in phases over the coming months as, according to Portsmouth Council, there is no ‘immediate danger’.

’Work can be done to strengthen the buildings but not while people are living in them,’ it said in a statement.

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘As part of work to look at options to replace cladding, the council commissioned an assessment of the structural safety of the blocks.

’The report on the buildings has concluded that the quality of the original 1960s construction isn’t as strong as expected.’

’It is very important that people realise there is no immediate danger from day-to-day living in the buildings but, as our number one priority is resident safety, we are starting the process of moving people to new homes.’

The council said it hopes the residents will be moved out by next spring.

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