Agenda item

Blackshots Estate: Proposals for the Way Forward


Councillor Spillman introduced the report and stated that it requested resources to ensure the three high rises in Blackshots were knocked down and replaced with something better for the residents. He explained that as the flats were not in a good condition, it would cost approximately the same amount to refurbish them as to knock them down. He stated that the residents had been consulted with and the majority had wanted the tower blocks demolished, and highlighted that new housing regulations were due next year, which would impact the high rises if they remained. 

Councillor Redsell spoke as Ward Member for Little Thurrock Blackshots and thanked Councillor Spillman for his work on the report. She stated that she did not want remedial work to take place on the high rises, as the damp and mould in the buildings could not be fixed. She explained that the last major works on the high rises had been undertaken in 1990, and the outside of the buildings did not conform to current regulations. Councillor Redsell requested clarity on what the new homes would look like, as homes would be needed for the current high-rise residents, but they had to be right by design. She expressed concern that the new homes would remove greenbelt land, and felt that residents in the tower blocks did not want to be moved to Horndon-on-the-Hill, which was one of the proposals within the report. She sought reassurance that the Council would work closely with Fields in Trust to ensure greenbelt land was protected. Councillor Redsell added that she had received lots of feedback from residents following the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee, and felt pleased to see that residents were engaging with the scrutiny process. Councillor Redsell summarised and stated that the towers needed to be demolished due to the damp and mould conditions within the building. Councillor Spillman stated that the issues within the flats regarding damp and mould were well documented, and felt that the tower blocks were now inadequate places for people to live. He explained that consultants would choose the most viable option for the new buildings. Councillor Maney agreed that the tower blocks were no longer fit for purpose and did not meet the current required standards. He thanked the local MP for her support in demolishing the tower blocks, and felt that it was now the right time to move forward with the proposals and regenerate the area.

Councillor Abbas thanked officers and the Portfolio Holder for the report, and asked how the consultancy fees would be funded. He also felt concerned regarding the use of greenbelt for the new houses. Councillor Spillman explained that the £200,000 consultancy budget would be used for visibility and preliminary works. He stated that he had consulted with Ward Members regarding the greenbelt option, and felt that it was needed as the footprint of the space had to be increased to ensure all residents could remain in the same area. He felt that this would maintain the community in the area where they currently lived, and although using greenbelt was not ideal he felt it was a small parcel and would improve the lives of residents in the flats. Councillor Snell felt cautious regarding the finances of the project, as it still had to be agreed by commissioners. He asked how the residents would be decamped from the tower blocks. Councillor Spillman explained that the team would be putting together a case for the project that would be presented to the commissioners. He added that the team would also be working on detailed proposals for the decampment of residents. The Leader added that the project would be funded through the Housing Revenue Account, rather than the general fund. The Deputy Leader highlighted point 3.15 of the report and asked if the homeowners within the tower blocks would receive the same service as council tenants. Councillor Spillman explained that homeowners would receive a different service as their homes would be compulsory purchased, but they would be integrated and included in all conversations and developments.

RESOLVED: That Cabinet:

1. Commented and agreed on:

1.1 The proposed approach to developing proposals for the future of the Blackshots estate.

1.2 The requirement to carry out essential remedial works to the Blackshots tower blocks.

1.3 The principal of redeveloping the estate to deal with the issues affecting the existing blocks, to provide good quality housing and to enhance the available stock of housing in Thurrock.

1.4 Note that a consultancy budget of £200,000 has been identified from within the existing Housing Revenue Account feasibility reserve to develop proposals for the future of the estate including appointing Independent Tenant Advisors.

1.5 The proposal to commence detailed design and planning for a proposed scheme to consult on with residents and the proposed approach to consultation.

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