By David Spereall
Leeds City Council’s decision to demolish six residential tower blocks has been rubberstamped, after efforts to defer the move for further consideration failed.
Bailey Towers, Brookland Towers and Ramshead Heights in Seacroft; Leafield Towers in Moortown, and Raynville Court and Raynville Grange in Armley/Bramley will all be hauled down.
The demolition is unlikely to take place until around 2026, after all residents have been rehomed.
The decision was initially signed off by the council’s senior leaders last month, but then put on hold when opposition councillors called it in for scrutiny. That meant in practice that there was an outside chance of it being reconsidered.
But at a meeting on Monday elected members voted nine-to-three in favour of the move, with the council stressing the flats are at the end of their useful life and impractical to refurbish.
Conservative councillor Barry Anderson, who led the call-in, insisted he was not arguing against the ageing blocks being demolished.
But he claimed the Labour administration had failed to properly consider the “impact” of the move and put plans in place to deal with it.
He told the meeting: “My concerns are about going forward. This is an example of us (the council) not thinking logically.
“We need the best for our tenants. Not just the least worst.
“None of us are saying we should be refurbishing them. But look at the impact the demolition’s going to have. The impacts have not been thought through.”
Councillor Anderson raised concerns about the pressure the demolition will have on the council house waiting list, on which 26,000 people in Leeds current sit.
With the six blocks accommodating 360 flats between them, he also suggested the authority would be losing out on vital rent receipts.
But the council said not taking action quickly could cost taxpayers more than £4m.
The meeting also heard that the blocks may not receive a safety certificate next year if new plans are not in place, meaning residents would have to be evacuated and rehomed anyway.
Councillor Jess Lennox, executive member for housing, said: “It’s unfortunate that we could lose 360 units at a time when demand is high. It’s possible it could mean a minor delay for applicants bidding for alternative homes across Leeds.
“But this will be done in a managed way over a two-to-three year period.”
Councillor Lennox said that residents “with the most immediate need” to be rehoused would still be prioritised in the “same way” they are currently.
Residents within the blocks are also said to be supportive of the plans, with Councillor Lennox saying only 29 had expressed “trepidation” about being rehomed.
Around a fifth of people living across all of the sites in question were seeking new places to live before the proposals came forward, according to the local authority.