Plans to demolish every North Lanarkshire tower block over next 20 years
Every single tower block in North Lanarkshire could be pulled down under new plans being considered by Scotland’s biggest council landlord.
North Lanarkshire Council is to open a consultation with its residents on how to gradually replace its 48 tower blocks, with just over 4,000 households between them, with low-rise buildings over the next 20 years.
The local authority is one of the biggest council landlords in the UK and is understood to be the first with numerous high rise dwellings to consider demolishing all of them.
Council leader Jim Logue stressed that the council’s tower blocks were safe to live in and the demolitions would be part of a half-billion-pound move to breathe new life in to the area’s string of medium-sized town centres, such as Coatbridge, Motherwell and Airdrie, and improve housing.
The councillor said: “These are hugely ambitious plans. We are in the midst of the biggest council housebuilding programme in a generation in Scotland.
“But we shouldn’t rest on our laurels. Towers were once the future of housing and we have invested steadily over the years in them. But there is no doubt that we are constrained in improving them by the construction; some of our towers were built 55 years ago.”
Mr Logue said he wanted to find ways of encouraging more people to live in town centres to help turn around their long-term decline.
He said: “The quality of homes we are now able to build is exceptional, with great access, adaptability and energy efficiency.
“The past few decades have also seen a move away from people living in and near our town centres. It’s essential that we do something to regenerate these towns, which have been hit by the rise of internet shopping and large out-of-town retail centres.
“One of the best ways to do that is to have people again living in our town centres in modern, fit-for-purpose housing with great amenities and good transport links. While not everyone who currently lives in a tower will wish to live in town centres, we aim to create great town centre properties for those who it will suit.”
The first part of the strategy took shape last week when the council unanimously approved the council’s housing revenue budget. The rent proposals approved will allow the council to begin the capital planning to deliver the massive programme. Rent increases will be capped at 5% for the next four years, keeping North Lanarkshire’s rent levels among the very lowest in Scotland.
The council said that if a block was demolished, it could look at how to house current neighbours and friends close to each other if that was what they wanted.
The council will consult its 4000 tower households on the plans in February 2018 to get a very clear understanding of their needs and desires for future housing.
While it plans to replace the blocks with low-rise houses, it still has not decided what form these should take - for instance, how many low-rise flats, semi-detached houses or bungalows could be built. This will be one of the issues which the consultation covers.
Allan Graham, the council’s convener of enterprise and housing, said: “I understand that some residents of our towers will be reluctant about these plans and enjoy living in their current homes. That’s why it’s important we really listen to them as part of a consultation exercise before making final decisions.
“It’s hard to understate the significance of these proposals. They will create thousands of jobs over a sustained period and provide a real boost to tenants and our local economy. We want to see real progress in tackling the waiting list for council houses and our commitment to the biggest housebuilding programme in a generation in Scotland is testament to our ambition for the people of North Lanarkshire. We are also continuing to invest in our existing housing stock with a comprehensive kitchen and bathroom replacement programme.”
In all there are 48 towers with 4090 households in North Lanarkshire. All the blocks (including the total number of properties) are listed below:
Airdrie total 232
Coatbridge total 1377
Motherwell total 2341
Wishaw Total 140