Consultation to begin on future of North Ayrshire tower blocks

The two tower blocks in Saltcoats

A consultation on proposals to demolish all the high rise tower blocks in North Ayrshire is to will get underway next week.

North Ayrshire Council became the second Scottish local authority to announce proposals to pull down all its tower blocks earlier this month. The council said it could replace five ageing tower blocks in Irvine and two in Saltcoats with modern, state-of-the-art homes as it seeks to ensure its residents can enjoy high quality, affordable and energy efficient housing.

Scotland’s biggest local authority landlord, North Lanarkshire Council, announced its own plans to demolish its even bigger stock of high flats in December following a programme of tower block structural surveys undertaken in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in June which claimed 71 lives.

The process of engaging with tenants of the North Ayrshire high-rise blocks is due to get underway on Tuesday, April 3.

North Ayrshire Council said its housing staff are primed to speak to residents of all the properties - 369 flats in total across the two sites.

It is hoped that the majority of the one-to-one sessions will be completed within the first two weeks although the consultation will continue after that in an effort to engage with as many affected people as possible.

At the meetings, residents will get the chance to hear in detail the options for the tower blocks as well the potential process for re-housing people if and when work gets under way.

High rise flats in Irvine

Council leader Joe Cullinane said: “Our residents are at the heart of these proposals and we are very keen to find out their thoughts and answer any questions they may have.

“We have already made a commitment to build more than 1000 new council houses across North Ayrshire over the next four years and, combined with the potential proposals for our high flats, this represents one of the most ambitious council house building programmes in Scotland.

“I believe this is a fantastic opportunity to change people’s lives for the better and really transform both the Fullarton and Saltcoats communities.”

North Ayrshire currently has seven high rise blocks - five in the Fullarton area of Irvine, and two in Saltcoats – and there are three options for the future of the tower blocks:

  • Option 1 - Retain all seven towers blocks and launch an improvements programme, including installation of sprinklers, alongside regular maintenance at a total cost of £22.5 million over 25 years.
  • Option 2 - Demolish all seven blocks and replace with low-rise housing constructed on-site and elsewhere, at a net additional cost of £22.1m, to be completed by 2023.
  • Option 3 - Demolish the five Irvine tower blocks only, with replacement low rise housing constructed on-site and elsewhere, and retain the Saltcoats tower blocks, at a net additional cost of £14.4m.
  • In the five Fullarton blocks, there are no owner occupiers, however, around one-third of the Saltcoats high flats properties are privately owned, including some with private tenants. Discussions with these private owners and tenants– as well as council tenants – will form a major part in the engagement exercise.

    Whatever option is chosen, the investment will be fully funded from council house rental income and will not impact on the council’s revenue or capital budgets.

    A report on the outcome of the consultation is expected to be brought before Cabinet this summer, with the next steps to be considered at that stage.

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