Demolition work to start on Wrexham's problem flats

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

CONTRACTORS will move in to knock down Wrexham’s Hightown Flats today.

The go-ahead for for the demolition of the five blocks of five-storey apartments, which had been plagued by a catalogue of structural problems, was given in late 2009.

The authority could not afford to spend £17.5 million on a major facelift of the 181 flats and maisonettes, which were built in 1970.

Councillors therefore opted to bulldoze the whole complex to make way for affordable housing.

In a consultation exercise, seven out of 10 tenants and residents backed the decision.

Since then, the intricate process of finding new homes for 120 households has been progressing steadily.

The council set up a project team to liaise with the people affected and three officers are dealing full-time with the operation.

While some tenants have decided to move to housing association properties, the majority have opted to stay with the council and a number of households have successfully moved out and begun to integrate with their new communities.

And the council says feedback from tenants about their new homes had been positive.

A major concern of the authority has been to ensure the site did not take on the hopeless appearance of a demolition zone as it emptied.

The council spokesman said: “It has been very important that the area is kept as clean and tidy as possible, heating and water supplies are maintained and that minor repairs continue to be carried out.

“We have also been working closely with the police and fire service to make sure the flats remain secure when people move out.”

Council officers have also been doing follow-up work with tenants who have moved out.

In a number of cases, people had been able to move to places they would not have had the points to qualify for under normal circumstances.

Despite Operation Hightown having an effect on it, the council’s normal lettings procedure has still been going ahead.

To compensate them for losing their homes, people moving from the flats were entitled to statutory compensation of £4,700 per household, in addition to payments for removal costs.

Tenants were given the choice of moving back to the area once it has been redeveloped.

The Communities First organisation has been helping the council to ensure people moving away from the area are able to maintain links with the local
community if they wish.

See full story in the Leader

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