Portsmouth City Council and Southern Gas Networks (SGN) have updated residents of Sarah Robinson House that the earliest that they can expect to start to safely reoccupy the building is expected to be Monday, 18 September.

Residents have been advised that if the situation changes or if there is any other significant news, they will be contacted. In the meantime, the council housing team will continue to support residents to ensure that they have accommodation.

The council and SGN understand that this is disappointing news for residents, however, the priority is residents’ safety and wellbeing.

SGN is continuing to ventilate the building to dispel gas and checking gas readings. Residents will only be able to reoccupy their homes when SGN engineers receive satisfactory gas readings in the building, and once the council and SGN have conducted other checks, such as electricity and lift tests.

John Pounds Centre, including the café, library, laundry, and shower facilities, will remain open to residents every day between 8am and 4pm.

Cllr Darren Sanders, Cabinet member for Housing and Tackling Homelessness , said: “We know that today’s disappointing news about a delay in returning residents to their homes isn’t what they, or we, want to hear, however, our residents’ safety and wellbeing remains our priority, and so we must wait until SGN confirm it’s safe to return to the building.

“We’d like to reassure residents that our housing team, other council staff, and SGN will continue to work to provide accommodation and support residents, as well as provide facilities at John Pounds Centre.

“Thank you to all the agencies and volunteers that have supported the council and SGN, however, most importantly we’d like to thank the residents of Sarah Robinson House for their patience and understanding at this difficult time.”

Katie Lobban, spokesperson for SGN, said: “Our engineers are making good progress ventilating Sarah Robinson House, but although we have recorded reduced gas readings in the building, more work with our specialist equipment is needed to extract all gas before evacuated residents can safely return home.

“We recognise this update will be frustrating for affected residents and we apologise for the inconvenience of not being able to return home. However, keeping everyone safe is our main priority, and we can assure you we’re working as quickly as possible to resolve this situation.

“We’re supporting Portsmouth City Council with securing extensions to alternative accommodation for those who need it and providing hot food vouchers. Additionally, our customer service team remain at John Pounds Centre with council representatives to answer any questions residents may have throughout the week.”

The council and SGN will continue to work together to provide residents with support. If residents have any concerns, they’re urged to call the housing team on 023 9260 6200. For more information please go to SGN’s incident page https://sgn.co.uk/news/evacuation-sarah-robinson-house-portsmouth