UP TO £10,000 compensation will be given to residents of high-rise tower blocks at Biart Place who will have to move out because they have been built to a ‘poor standard’.
The blocks could be demolished and rebuilt after a report to Rugby Borough Council revealed they ‘may not perform as expected’ in the event of a fire or explosion.
Councillors have agreed to find alternative accommodation for the 90 households currently living in the flats, starting with immediate effect.
Tenants will be permanently moved to new homes which ‘meet their needs’, and all will be entitled to a continuing secure tenancy with the council if they choose.
The level of compensation will depend on the size of tenants’ flats, whether they choose to live in the same area or a different part of the borough, and whether they choose another council property, a housing association home or the private sector.
A spokesman for Rugby Borough Council (RBC) said: “The statutory amount the law says RBC must provide is just over £6,000 for a one-bedroom flat and around £7,000 for a two-bed.
“But we think it is reasonable to offer over and above that to compensate for the costs of moving, disruption, and other potential costs such as new school uniforms if tenants choose to move to other areas.
“The multi-storey blocks have stood safely since they were built around 50 years ago, and all previous fires within the blocks have been contained as designed.”
He added the risk of fire or explosion was reduced because there is no gas supply to the flats, and portable gas appliances are banned under the tenancy agreement. A recent change to a full fire evacuation policy has also reduced the risk to residents.
Coun Neil Sandison, who represents Eastlands Ward, said: “The structural survey has clearly unearthed defects that no one could have known about. Many local authorities are in a similar position.”
Fellow ward councillor Sue Roodhouse added: “We must listen to residents’ concerns as a priority. They will need our assistance and support. The offer must be for suitable accommodation that meets their personal needs.”
Survey work begun in late 2016 and concluded over the last six months found the blocks, built in or around 1968, were missing some strengthening steel angles which should have been added shortly after they were built.
It also identified a number of other construction problems, including corroding steel reinforcements, and carbonation – ‘concrete cancer’ – weakening concrete in ‘critical areas’.
The survey adds that the structure of the blocks would maintain fire resistance in accordance with British Standards, and could also resist structural wind loadings.
Of the 126 flats at Biart Place, 90 are currently occupied. Council officers have already visited them to understand the makeup of each household and any specific needs they may have.
RBC will move all residents out of the blocks by March 2019 at the latest – but hopes to have achieved this by as early as September this year.
A report recommending whether to repair or demolish the blocks will be presented to councillors this summer.
Results of survey work on the multi-story blocks at Rounds Gardens are not yet complete, but early indications are that the issues are not as serious and potential remediation measures are not the same as for Biart Place.