Somers Orchard – former Horatia and Leamington Houses site
Proposals for the future of Horatia House and Leamington House in Somerstown were approved on Tuesday 26 February, at a special meeting of the Cabinet.
Cladding was removed from Leamington House and Horatia House following the Grenfell tragedy. We then found problems with the original 1960s concrete construction of the blocks during the detailed building surveys, which were carried out while we were looking for a suitable replacement for cladding. As a result, we put additional safety measures in place and started the process of moving residents to new homes. You can read all the background information here.
While we have been finding new homes for residents, we have also been doing a lot of work to understand what the future options might be for the blocks. This has meant doing more survey work, and starting to get estimates for the cost of repairs. Our investigations have shown that, because of the way the buildings were constructed in the 1960s from large concrete panels, the work needed to repair Horatia House & Leamington House is significant and would be very expensive. It is estimated that it would cost around £86M to strengthen the two blocks.
A report recommending future options for the buildings was submitted for consideration on 18 February, and this meeting reviewed and agreed the suggestions.
One of the options put forward is the deconstruction of the blocks (disassembling them panel by panel in the opposite order to that in which they were erected) and using the opportunity to redevelop the site to create more affordable and social housing.
The report also states the commitment of the Council’s political administration that any future plans for the blocks must include at least 272 socially-rented homes, the same number as exist now.
Now the proposals have been agreed, we will move forwards to work with residents and the wider community in Somerstown to make sure local people are fully involved and have a part in any future plans to shape the area. We asked the local community for their thoughts on the future of Somerstown.