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Five-year revamp project begins on tower blocks
SURVEYS on Oxford’s five tower blocks have started, ahead of a £15m refurbishment programme.
Oxford City Council staff have begun assessing the condition of the buildings to establish exactly what repair work needs to be undertaken.
And they will have to go into some flats to carry out inspections.
The scheme aims to refurbish Windrush Tower and Evenlode Tower in Blackbird Leys, Foresters Tower in Wood Farm, Hockmore Tower in Cowley and Plowmans Tower in Northway.
It had been expected that the work would take a decade – but officials yesterday said that the work would be done within five years.
The first formal consultation will start in late November, and work is expected to go ahead between 2015 and 2018.
It comes a year and a half after plans for the work were announced by the council – and community leaders and residents said the refurbishment could not come soon enough. Windrush Tower resident and single mum Tanya Rimes, 25, says she has had to put up with mould and damp in her flat for four years.
She said the condition of their living space often made her children Kacey, five, Kyra, four and Anaya, eight months, ill.
She said: “Anything they can do will be welcome, but how long are they going to take to do it? We need something done now.
“I’m up every night with my kids crying and being sick because it’s making them ill.”
The five tower blocks date from the mid-1960s.
Blackbird Leys Parish Council chairman Gordon Roper said: “If you think about how old those buildings are, they haven’t really done anything to bring them up to standard.
“This will be most welcomed by the people who live in them and it is long overdue.”
City executive board member for housing Scott Seamons said: “This project will significantly improve residents’ living environment and extend the lifespan of the properties.”
Cash for the project was signed off in the council’s capital budget for 2013/14, which was approved in February, and the scheme is expected to benefit more than 700 people.
The process will include some abseiling down the outside of the towers by specialist surveyors.
The council said it would make sure residents are fully involved.
No formal timetable for the work has been set, but Mr Seamons said earlier this year that it was his intention to tackle the tower blocks in Blackbird Leys first as part of wider regeneration of the area – followed by Plowman, Foresters and then Hockmore, although this could yet change.
s Are you a resident at the tower blocks? What do you think needs to be done to improve you home? Call Freddie Whittaker on 01865 425444
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