North Ayrshire Council to move forward with plans to demolish most tower blocks

Council leader Joe Cullinane at the Fullarton High Flats in Irvine

North Ayrshire Council has announced it will move forward with plans to demolish the overwhelming majority of tower blocks in North Ayrshire.

Cabinet has agreed to demolish the five tower blocks in Irvine and retain the two high flats in Saltcoats following extensive engagement with residents in recent weeks.

In Irvine, the council intends to proceed with a rehousing strategy for the residents of all five tower blocks, prepare development proposals for 275 new homes, and arrange for demolition of the blocks.

In Saltcoats, the two high flats will be retained and the council intends to draw up detailed investment proposals for the installation of sprinklers and scheduled maintenance.

Council leader Joe Cullinane said: “From the outset, we have said we would listen to what the residents wanted and that is reflected in the proposals being put before us.

“A clear majority of tenants in Irvine want us to proceed with the demolition of the tower blocks, which will be replaced by high-quality, energy-efficient homes.

“In Saltcoats, it was evident that residents do not want us to replace the two tower blocks so we will now move ahead with proposals to upgrade the buildings.

“It is important that we engage with each and every resident to ensure that they are kept fully informed and that we can answer any questions they may have.

“This is a massive housing project – adding to the 1000 new homes we are already committed to delivering by 2023 – and our residents will play a key part in this process.”

The proposals were drawn up following a six-week engagement exercise which attracted responses from 82 per cent of tenants and residents in the Irvine and Saltcoats tower blocks.

In Irvine, 215 households out of the 275 properties responded to the consultation. 66 per cent favoured demolition of the tower blocks with 32 per cent favouring their retention. 2 per cent stated no preference.

Representatives from Housing Services will now make arrangements to meet all tenants in Irvine’s five tower blocks to explain what happens next. Particular care will be taken to work with the 68 households which did not support the demolition option.

Tenants will be also be given advice on being rehoused, whether that is in Irvine or elsewhere in North Ayrshire, if that is their wish.

It is currently expected that re-housing all tenants in Irvine could take up to two years, which would allow demolition to go ahead and the building of new houses on the site of the tower blocks and elsewhere by 2023.

In Saltcoats, 79 out of 94 households responded, with 65 per cent in favour of retaining the two tower blocks and 34 per cent choosing the option for demolition. 1 per cent stated no preference.

Consultation with tenants and owners is expected to get under way by autumn on the improvement proposals.

Part of this improvement programme will involve the installation of a sprinkler system in the two tower blocks. Owner occupiers and private landlords will not be expected to pay a contribution towards costs of installation of sprinklers in common areas. Additionally, owners cannot be compelled to install sprinklers in their own properties but they will have the opportunity to opt-in, at their own cost, if they wish to install them as part of the wider work programme.

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