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Residents overwhelmingly back moving from Shires Estate

The feedback was gathered following a four-week engagement exercise with residents of Shropshire and Cheshire Houses, which showed more than three quarters of respondents support the Council’s proposals to be rehoused.This feedback, alongside the significant investment required in the blocks immediately and over the medium term, means Enfield Council’s Cabinet members will consider a proposal to decommission the buildings. A report will be presented to the Cabinet on 19 April.   Enfield Council intends to re-house residents within a year and will start discussions as soon as possible with leaseholders to ensure the timely buy-back of their properties.

The two 17-storey blocks in Edmonton, comprising 204 homes, will be subject to a demolition notice, if the recommendations are accepted.

Enfield Council’s Leader, Cllr Nesil Caliskan, said: “Following overwhelming backing of moving from the estate, our priority is to ensure all residents at Cheshire and Shropshire Houses get the quality home they deserve. A full refurbishment of the blocks, just to maintain them to an acceptable standard, would have been expensive and disruptive, so we have listened to the community at The Shires Estate who do not want to go through several months of disruption. Decanting the blocks will also enable the Council to put its limited resources towards improving the rest of our council homes.

“This is why we are recommending decommissioning the tower blocks, which will enable us to move residents out as soon as soon possible into decent and safe alternative accommodation. The safety and comfort of our residents is our priority, and this decision will ensure that residents are able to quickly access the decent housing they deserve.”

Dedicated resident engagement officers will be deployed to support residents to identify their housing options and to help move home. Council officers will prioritise the most vulnerable residents who may need additional support. There will be access to legal and surveying costs associated with buybacks for leaseholders, and they too will be supported to move.

The report on the future of Shropshire and Cheshire Houses will be presented to the Cabinet on the evening of 19 April and is subject to call-in. Approval for leaseholder buybacks will be tabled and debated at a Council meeting, likely this May.  - Ends


Background:

Shropshire House and Cheshire House are two 17-storey blocks, comprising 204 homes, located on the Shires Estate in Edmonton.  Built in the 1960s, they have becoming increasingly difficult and costly to maintain due to the form of construction of the blocks (Large Panel System) and limited resources for their maintenance.
In order to consider the investment strategy for the blocks a structural survey was commissioned and the results were concluded in 2022.  The findings indicated a need to undertake structural strengthening works and to remove the gas supply.  Significant investment is required in these blocks. Of the £53 million estimated costs to retain the building over 30 years, £40 million must be spent in the short term to address current needs. This does not include cosmetic works including replacing external cladding, internal refurbishments, etc.
Gas supply to Cheshire House was turned off by the gas infrastructure provider (Cadent) in late November 2022 at little notice due to the discovery of a gas leak, which led to the need for immediate action.
Since that time, Enfield Council  worked at pace to install a new electrical supply for both the buildings. This necessary work has completed.
Enfield Council launched a series of engagement exercises with residents of the two blocks in February 2023. This included on-site, drop-in meetings. Enfield Council also wrote to residents and carried out door-to-door conversations to address the issues of the aged estate.
76 per cent of residents who responded said they would welcome a move off the estate, if it meant moving to a better standard home that they can afford. 11 per cent of residents who responded explicitly said they would like to remain on the estate and not move home.

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