Councillor Coxshall introduced
the report and stated that the proposal consisted of approximately
56 one-bedroom flats and 26 two-bedroom flats on the current CO1
site. He explained that there had been numerous options available
to deliver the site, but if the recommendations were agreed by
Cabinet, then the site would be delivered, owned and managed solely
through the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and would be solely
high-quality council housing. He stated that this scheme would
increase the amount of council housing stock available, and would
work towards the Council’s objective of ‘fewer
buildings, better services’. Councillor Hebb added that the
scheme would rationalise the Council’s assets as it would
reduce the amount of office space, improve energy efficiency, and
improve services, whilst also reducing the Council’s cost. He
stated that the proposal would improve housing for local residents
and would provide additional homes.
The Leader stated that housing officers, Members and the Portfolio Holder were currently working on delivering a number of schemes, including the redevelopment of Blackshots, by demolishing the existing high-rises in the area and building new houses and apartments. He stated that the detail surrounding this scheme would be presented to overview and scrutiny and Cabinet in the future, but would work to improve housing for residents in the Blackshots tower blocks. He explained that there were currently three high-rises comprising of 168 flats, 155 of which were council owned and 13 privately owned. He stated that the Council would work with the leaseholders of these flats as the project developed. The Leader commented that residents in the high-rises would be decanted into new housing in the area, which would be formed of both houses and flats, ensuring different provision was accessible to residents. He added that officers and Members were also re-opening proposals regarding the high-rises in Grays and Tilbury, as these high-rises could also suffer from problems with damp and mould. He summarised and stated that the housing team and Cabinet would be considering the whole of the HRA and council housing stock across the borough.
Councillor Maney thanked the Leader for those reassurances regarding the future of the Blackshots estate. He stated that as Ward Councillor for the area he regularly met with housing officers and was working hard to ensure the tower blocks were demolished and good housing built for those residents. He understood that this could be a long journey, as it could be difficult to demolish the tower blocks, but felt that the Council were moving in the right direction with the project. He added that some of the high-rises in the borough, including the tower blocks in Grays, suffered from problems with damp and mould, as the high-rises were at end of life and needed replacing.
Councillor Coxshall added that any new high-rises that were considered in the future needed to be of good quality design and well-maintained. He commented that some Thurrock residents enjoyed living in tower blocks due to the sense of community, and felt that there were opportunities for new high-density housing options in places such as town centres. The Leader commented that high-rises could have nice views, and modern high-rises may not suffer as much with damp and mould due to modern building standards. He summarised and stated that this could be a long project and work would be ongoing in the meantime to maintain the current high-rises.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
1. Approved the proposed redevelopment of CO1 be 100% funded through the HRA.
2. Approved that the scheme proposed is to be directly delivered by the Council and the properties be owned, managed and let by the Council through the HRA.
3. Noted that consultants are appointed to take the scheme through to planning submission subject to formal approvals and consultation.
Reason for decision: as outlined in the report
This decision is subject to call-in