Council to consult on towering ambition


North Lanarkshire Council is to consult residents on ambitious plans which could see all 48 residential tower blocks in the area be demolished over the next 20 years.

The plans - which are part of the council's strategy to provide better homes, regenerate town centres and create jobs - would see around half a billion pounds invested across North Lanarkshire.

Councillor Jim Logue, leader of North Lanarkshire Council, said: "These are hugely ambitious plans. North Lanarkshire is Scotland's biggest council landlord and we are in the midst of the biggest council house building programme in a generation in Scotland.

"But we shouldn't rest on our laurels. Towers were once the future of housing and we have invested steadily over the years in them. But there is no doubt that we are constrained in improving them by the construction; some of our towers were built 55 years ago. The quality of homes we are now able to build is exceptional, with great access, adaptability and energy efficiency.

"The past few decades have also seen a move away from people living in and near our town centres. It's essential that we do something to regenerate these towns, which have been hit by the rise of internet shopping and large out-of-town retail centres. One of the best ways to do that is to have people again living in our town centres in modern, fit-for-purpose housing with great amenities and good transport links. While not everyone who currently lives in a tower will wish to live in town centres, we aim to create great town centre properties for those who it will suit."

The first part of the strategy took shape last week when the council unanimously approved the council's housing revenue budget. The rent proposals approved will allow the council to begin the capital planning to deliver the massive programme. Rent increases will be capped at 5% for the next four years, keeping North Lanarkshire's rent levels among the very lowest in Scotland.

The council will consult its 4000 tower households on the plans in February 2018 to get a very clear understanding of their needs and desires for future housing.

Councillor Allan Graham, the council's convener of enterprise and housing, said: "I understand that some residents of our towers will be reluctant about these plans and enjoy living in their current homes. That's why it's important we really listen to them as part of a consultation exercise before making final decisions.

 "It's hard to understate the significance of these proposals. They will create thousands of jobs over a sustained period and provide a real boost to tenants and our local economy. We want to see real progress in tackling the waiting list for council houses and our commitment to the biggest house building programme in a generation in Scotland is testament to our ambition for the people of North Lanarkshire. We are also continuing to invest in our existing housing stock with a comprehensive kitchen and bathroom replacement programme." 

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