Tower block residents in Rock Ferry, Moreton, Woodchurch and Seacombe to be rehoused
UP TO eight residential tower blocks once owned by Wirral Council are to be closed.
New owners Wirral Partnership Homes says bringing the towers up to standard, coupled with low occupancy rates, means they are no longer viable.
WPH chief executive Brian Simpson has this week written to all 66 members of the council advising them of the closure plan.
He writes that existing tenants will be re-housed and will receive priority status on the waiting list .
The blocks earmarked for the axe over the next one to three years are Melrose, Sandbourne, Thornridge (all Moreton), Flambards (Woodchurch) and Thorsway (Rock Ferry).
Five high rise blocks are to be refurbished: Sunningdale (Moreton), Liscard House (Liscard), Brackendale (Woodchurch) and The Towers (Tranmere) with Knowsley Court (Rock Ferry) and Neston Gardens (Birkenhead) being subject to minor remedial work and further review.
Of the existing 15 blocks of flats, two are already in the process of being closed - at Mersey Court and Charter House in Seacombe.
Wirral Council decided to transfer its housing stock to WPH in 2003.
But Mr Simpson writes that it has become clear from the investigations undertaken by WPH since then that there was not sufficient allowance made in the business plan approved at the time for all the high rise flats to be brought up to a standard that would guarantee a minimum 30-year life.
That would have required investment in the region of £70m to £90m and could not have been contained within the maximum loan facility granted to WPH, he said.
Following more detailed study of the demand for high rise housing and the continued difficulties in letting vacancies in many blocks, and the very high costs of continued management and maintenance, it has been decided that many blocks do not have a sustainable long-term future, added Mr Simpson.
He tells councillors: "The proposal agreed by [WPH] board is that it does make economic and social sense to invest in five of the 15 blocks and to consider a further two blocks in due course.
"This will mean, potentially eight of the 15 blocks will be closed."
Letters to all residents in high rise flats have been sent this week explaining WPH’s decisions for their blocks.
Wirral Council's cabinet member for housing, Cllr George Davies, said that times have changed and the desire for high rise living has dwindled.
"Some of these blocks used to have long waiting lists for tenants. Now they can hardly fill them," he said. THE GLOBE