ALMOST half of the residents in a dilapidated tower block have been found new homes just three months since the process of emptying the building began, it has been revealed.

Since families were told in December that they must leave their homes for a £16 million overhaul of Brooke House to be carried out, 40 households have either left or had new homes found for them.

Originally, Basildon Council warned it could take two years to empty the building, but the process is already way ahead of schedule. 

Residents living in the city centre tower block have been plagued by leaks, damp and mould for several years, but matters came to a head when the fire service told the council urgent repairs to the stairwell could not be carried out without clearing the building.

Andrew Schrader, councillor responsible for housing, says he and officers are “cautiously optimistic” about the progress.

He said: “We knew this would be quite an undertaking.

“The aim is to get people moved out as quickly as possible. Officers have pulled out all the stops to do so.

Echo: Brooke House - the town centre block is due to undergo a £16-million overhaul.Brooke House - the town centre block is due to undergo a £16-million overhaul. (Image: Ben Shahrabi)

“I’m obviously very pleased we’ve been able to make progress, but I’m not going to get too cocky.

“Two years was a worst-case scenario, so I hope we should be pretty clear of that now.”

Councillors green lit plans in January to move all the residents out so £16-million improvement works to the building’s roof, stairwell and individual flats could be completed.

However, Mr Schrader added that “no one” would want to be the last to leave.

He said: “No one wants to be the last person living in an entirely empty building, so we need to make sure everyone is settled as soon as possible.

“Once we’ve got everyone rehoused, we can carry out the long-overdue works.”

Echo: Determined - Mr Schrader says 'officers have pulled out all the stops'.Determined - Mr Schrader says 'officers have pulled out all the stops'. (Image: Basildon Council)

A Basildon Council spokesman said: “40 properties within Brooke House have now been decanted, have a property identified, or are under offer awaiting a start date for their tenancy.

“We are pleased with the progress of the decant programme so far and expect additional properties to become available for Brooke House tenants as we move through the Spring and Summer.

“We will complete the programme as quickly as properties become available and we are grateful to residents for their patience and support.”