PEOPLE living in Southend’s Quantock tower block could be moved out while it undergoes a £4million refurbishment under council plans, seen by the Echo.
Southend Council details the proposal for the 13-storey block off Chichester Road, Southend, as part of its local investment plan.
The plan explains how the 100 residents in the block would be moved into new homes being built on the site of the Maybrook Training centre, off Southchurch Road, or other planned social housing schemes in the borough while revamp work was carried out.
The plan also revealed proposals which could see all the boroughs blocks either redeveloped as sheltered housing or care homes or sold off to developers.
A council spokesman said: “We are currently considering a range of options regarding the town centre tower blocks, as well as their associated financial implications. Given their collective size with some 420 individual households, it’s not a simple procedure in terms of the logistics involved and will take some time, because we want to make sure anything we might do in the future is right for the town and best for the tenants.”
The investment plan is part of the council’s long-term vision to bring its 13 tower blocks up to a Government decent homes standard or demolish and rebuild them. It would initially focus on Quantock and lead to a major revamp of the flats, to improve living conditions, and hopefully stamp out the antisocial behaviour issues that have plagued it for years.
Clinical: The appearance of landings in Quantock flat has been criticised
The block could even be expanded from 100 to 140 flats, according to a local investment plan over the next four years.
Redeveloping Quantock is a medium-term aim of the plan, that identifies priorities up to 2017, before any proposals for the 12 other blocks and two ninestorey blocks were drawn up.
These tower blocks, run for the council by South Essex Homes, make up 17 per cent of the council’s housing stock.
A quarter of all its homes failed to meet the decent homes standard in 2011.
The plan said: “In the current financial climate, this is an area that may well require radical solutions, including refurbishment, or redevelopment either council-led or in association with partner developers.
Rundown: Southend town centre tower blocks are in need of investment
Looking up: A £4million revamp could rid Quantock of the anti-social problems often found in its stairwells such as drug and drink misuse and the homeless congregating
“There are a number of possibilities, from using them for residential care or sheltered accommodation to selling them to a developer. The town centre blocks are in an excellent location with good transports links and views. However, there may be issues surrounding the decanting of these properties.
“The development of at least 100 affordable housing units at this site (Maybrook and Burland) will deliver muchneeded housing, while also supporting the subsequent phased regeneration of the town centre’s residential tower blocks.”
Development of social housing between London Road and Queensway could also provide temporary accommodation for those in the tower blocks, it said.
One woman who has lived at Quantock for 30 years is concerned that if she moved out she might never return to her home.
Concerned: Rose Chapman
Rose Chapman, 81, said: “I do my own place up myself.
“It would worry me, because if they moved us out, I don’t think the older people would get back and they would put us in somewhere smaller, where we don’t want to be. Don’t get me wrong, I want the halls and landings done up, as they have not been touched for years and they would not need to move us out for that.”
Senior councillors claim the plans have yet to move forward significantly due to financial constraints.
Lesley Salter, Tory councillor responsible for housing, said: “We have been talking about it for years and nothing has changed recently. There is the space issue. Where do you get the space to move that many people, so it has not really progressed, but I will be meeting about this with South Essex Homes for an update.”
Labour councillor David Norman led a scrutiny review of the blocks last summer, and is keen for plans to move forward, but said security of the existing blocks, including the provision of security patrols as revealed by the Echo last week, was the current priority.
He said: “Our long-term aim remains to regenerate these areas.”