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Portsmouth to demolish two 1960s tower blocks following structural fears

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Portsmouth City Council is set to demolish two 1960s tower blocks after investigations revealed serious concerns over their structural stability

Residents were moved out of Leamington House and Horatia House in Somers Town last June after a survey revealed weaknesses in the buildings’ concrete floor slabs and walls.

The survey was commissioned aluminium composite cladding (ACM) was removed from the towers after it was identified as a fire risk in tests in the wake of the Grenfell Fire. 

The two towers, home to 262 residents, were built in 1965 using the Large Panel System (LPS) method, whereby prefabricated concrete sections are assembled on site, resting upon each other and only held together by their own weight.

A report, to appear before the city council next week, argues that strengthening works to the towers would cost around £86 million.

The local authority said the work needed to repair the two buildings was ‘significant and would be very expensive’, and would only add 30 years to the lifespan of the towers. 

Portsmouth City Council councillor and housing chief Darren Sanders said: ‘Residents have been moved from these blocks twice in the past 20 years and restrengthening the buildings at an enormous expense would only provide us with a further 30 years of use.

‘That’s simply not in the best interests of the council or the residents. We want to this situation to provide long-term housing solutions, not sticking plasters.’

The council said the site would be redeveloped for affordable housing. Its report stated that preliminary work undertaken by CGL Architects demonstrated that 441 homes could be built on the site.

Last year marked 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.

The proposal for Leamington and Horatia is set to be discussed by the council next Tuesday (26 February).

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Readers' comments (1)

  • 'LPS blocks were supposed to have been strengthened in the 1970s' - either they were or they weren't, and as the 1970s weren't exactly in the Dark Ages it's surely a national disgrace if this work has been incompletely recorded.

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