A £6m plunge into the Milton Keynes housing market is being lined up to make sure tenants of two doomed tower blocks don’t end up in temporary accommodation when they are demolished.
The clock is ticking on the demolition of Mellish Court, in Bletchley, and The Gables, in Wolverton, which have to be vacant by October under an agreement between MK Council and the local fire service.
“With 21 weeks remaining until the blocks need to be vacant for demolition,” says report to a council meeting, “there is now a need to further consider how we can increase the supply of council homes to ensure that tenants can move to a suitable accommodation.
“If too few appropriately sized council properties become vacant the only alternative to decant the tower blocks would be to move residents to temporary accommodation until a suitable void property is available. This is not considered a suitable option for the residents.”
The council is lining up to pay an over-the-odds £180,000 per property because they are needed so urgently.
The council has to offer suitable accommodation before it can take court action, the report reads.
But the report adds that the homes, to be paid for from right to buy sales and the council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA), would stay in the council’s ownership.
A report to Cllr Emily Darlington (Lab, Bletchley East), the council’s cabinet member for housing, revealed that MKC does not have enough one and two bed properties coming vacant from its stock to guarantee getting everyone into a suitable new home by the deadline.
The report says: “The decant process has highlighted the issue of the need for additional council homes that meet the needs of tenants from Mellish and the Gables, in particular two bed properties of which the council owns significantly fewer than it does one and three bed properties.”
The report to Cllr Darlington revealed that with five months to go some 63 per cent of the 136 flats at the 18-storey Mellish Court are empty. At the 11-storey The Gables, 78 per cent of the 59 flats are empty.
Many of the remaining tenants want to stay in a council property and not change to a registered housing provider, the report to next Tuesday’s delegated decisions meeting says.
“The decant process for these tenants is reliant on council properties becoming void or increasing the number of available council homes,” the report says.
“The majority of council tenants in both blocks are either under offer or waiting to move or view a property,” it adds.
Tenants and leaseholders at the blocks are due to be served legal notices to terminate agreements “immediately” following a call in period for next Tuesday’s decision.
Final offers are due to be made in July.
The report added that council officers have already made offers on properties and will follow them up after next week’s decision. Completions are due in July and August.