Tower block demolition on ice after opposition call decision in for scrutiny

Raynville Grange in Armley is likely to be demolished. Picture from Google Maps

By David Spereall, local democracy reporter

Plans to demolish six council tower blocks in the city – including two in West Leeds – are on ice for now, after opposition councillors called the decision in for scrutiny.

The city’s Labour administration approved the mothballing of Bailey Towers, Brookland Towers and Ramshead Heights in Seacroft, Leafield Towers in Moortown, and Raynville Court and Raynville Grange in Armley/Bramley, earlier this month.

Senior leaders and officers say all six blocks, which house around 360 residents between them, have reached the end of their useful life.

But the decision will be brought back for further discussion at a meeting next Monday. After that, members of the council’s housing scrutiny board will vote on whether or not to rubberstamp it, or urge the administration to think again.

The call-in has been led by Conservative councillor Barry Anderson, with the backing of other opposition parties apart from the Greens.

Explaining the move on Monday, Councillor Anderson said he wanted to make sure the council had explored “all possible options” before pressing ahead with the demolition.

The administration has said evacuated residents will be given priority on the council’s housing waiting list.

But Councillor Anderson said: “The housing list is already oversubscribed. Residents throughout the city are waiting a disproportionately long time.

“I’m not disagreeing with (residents from these blocks) getting priority.

“But that means local residents who might have had it will be further down the list and they could be waiting several months more before they find a house that’s appropriate for them.”

The council has said it is likely to take a “couple of years” to rehouse the residents affected, before the tower blocks can be hauled down.

It then intends to rebuild new modern homes on the land, an option it says is cheaper than refurbishing the existing apartments.

But Councillor Anderson warned that the taxpayer may have to fork out for extra security costs, because of the risk of anti-social behaviour when the site is left vacant.

Council officers have admitted that the housing service is struggling financially.

The local authority also says residents in the blocks are broadly in favour of the plans, though Councillor Anderson said he wanted to see written details of the consultation.


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