Coventry & Warwickshire

Tenants to leave Rugby tower blocks over fire safety fears

Biart Place tower block Image copyright Gene Parker Brombley
Image caption Currently, it's thought more than 150 people live in Biart Place tower blocks

All tenants from two Warwickshire tower blocks are to be moved from their homes over serious fire safety concerns.

More than 150 people living at Biart Place, Rugby, will be rehoused after a council approved the plan on Tuesday.

Issues with fire resistance, poor quality concrete and corroding steel were highlighted in a survey commissioned by the borough council.

No decision has been made about whether to spend £25m refurbishing the 50-year-old flats or demolish them.

Tenants from Fairway and Green Court will receive compensation and found "similar accommodation that meets their needs", the local authority said.

'Last resort housing'

Image copyright Gene Parker Brombley
Image caption Gene Parker Brombley lives in one of the flats with his partner and two-year-old son

Everyone is expected to have left the flats by March 2019, but some moves are beginning with immediate effect.

Currently, 90 of the 124 flats are occupied.

Gene Parker Brombley, who has lived in Green Court with his partner and two-year-old son since 2016, said it was a resolution "at last" after living in their flat without knowing how safe they were.

He said he was waiting to hear where they would be moving to but accepted they would probably not be returning to the tower blocks which have a "terrible reputation" and viewed as "last resort housing".

"There are a lot of unanswered questions and the work has been quite disruptive and there's been anxiety about safety... it's been quite difficult." he said.

Image copyright Google
Image caption A report is also being put together on the condition of tower blocks at nearby Rounds Gardens

A recent check confirmed there were 155 residents at Biart Place, but that figure is thought to be "fluid".

The authority commissioned a survey in 2016 which found the blocks had "been built to a poor standard and may not perform as expected in the event of a fire or explosion", although they met British fire resistance standards.

But, the council said, the risk of a fire had been substantially reduced because there was no gas supply and changes had been made to the evacuation policy.

A report is also being prepared on nearby Rounds Gardens, which has three blocks and 189 flats.

However, the authority said the structural issues there were not the same as at Biart Place.

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