OXFORD’S five tower blocks are about to undergo the biggest makeover in their 50-year existence.

The long-anticipated £20m project has stalled several times and at one point appeared not to be going ahead, but contractor Willmott Dixon has now confirmed work will begin in January.

All five towers were built in the 1960s to meet post-war housing demand and have not undergone any major renovation since.

Willmott Dixon’s Richard Crook, who will run the programme, said: “The tower blocks desperately need the work. We are starting with Evenlode in Blackbird Leys then later we will start with Windrush, then Hockmore, Foresters and Plowman. It will be a 52-week programme on each and take two years altogether.”

Work will include repairs to the internal structure, lift refurbishment, insulation and over-cladding, new windows and heating systems and upgrades to the electrics and fire safety systems.

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According to Oxford City Council, it will extend the life of the buildings by at least 30 years.

The grounds and car parks will be improved and each will be clad in different colours, with Evenlode blue and grey, Windrush red and blue and Hockmore green and yellow.

Mr Crook said: “They will look fantastic when they’re finished. They will look like really modern tower blocks.

“When they were built, the towers were very efficient for their day but energy costs were a fraction of what they are now.”

Residents will not pay any bills, but leaseholders within Evenlode have been contacted and will pay some of the costs of the work.

Councillor Linda Smith, who represents Blackbird Leys on Oxford City Council, said: “The regeneration projects have been put on hold because of the Government’s Housing and Planning Bill. Luckily the towers project was sufficiently advanced that it hasn’t been affected.

“It will be really good for the residents. They’re getting new kitchens and new bathrooms, and energy bills will be smaller.”

Evenlode Tower resident Lauraine Dineen, who has two young sons, Harry, five, and George, four, said: “Having the work done is going to be a bit annoying but the end result will be worth it.

“New windows will be good. When we had the high winds recently someone one’s window in the building flew open and smashed.”

Anita Payne, who lives in Evenlode Tower with son Christopher, 22, and daughter Stephanie, 14, said: “The thing that’s concerning me is it will take a year to do the work. I just hope there’s not too much disruption.”