Plans submitted for demolition of Gorbals flats

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Work has already begun on moving people out of the flats in the Gorbals

Two blocks of high-rise flats in the Gorbals are set to be demolished  — possibly by controlled explosion — due to a fire safety risk, with plans now submitted to the council.

New Gorbals Housing Association (NGHA) has been moving people out of the 276 flats at 305 and 341 Caledonia Road in preparation for the demolition. It comes after a fire safety assessment in 2019 found the risk could “only be permanently reduced” by removing cladding and timber balconies installed in the 1990s.

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Instead, it was decided public investment would be “better directed at rehousing the existing tenants, demolishing the buildings and funding a new-build programme of replacement housing”. A replacement social housing development made up of around 150 houses and flats is planned on the site, but there is “uncertainty over timing”, with increased construction costs given as one of the reasons.

The housing association has now submitted a prior notification of demolition to Glasgow City Council, with documents revealing the towers are expected to be fully vacated by the end of this month (July). A rehousing programme began in April 2021 after the housing association reported a consultation process found 88.5% of tenants preferred moving and demolition.

Planning officials will decide whether prior approval needs to be provided by the council, and work could begin from August or September this year. However, the housing association believes the site would not be clear until December next year. It is proposing a “temporary park” until a new development can be progressed.

Documents submitted to the council stated the final demolition method for the two blocks, and a single-storey concierge office, won’t be determined until a contractor has been selected. However, a pre-tender statement added it is “currently anticipated that at least one of the blocks (No 305) will be demolished by the controlled use of explosives”.

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Block 341 would be demolished either “by a similar method or alternatively by deconstruction”. Stripping of the inside of the blocks has already begun. A report added: “Ordinarily, the proposed demolition works would have been addressed as part of the planning application for residential development.

“However, while it is certain that a replacement development will be proposed, there is uncertainty over the timing of a planning application for a variety of reasons. Those include, but are not limited to, delays in the preparation of technical reports and that NGHA would like to wait for construction costs to stabilise before commencing significant further investment to the redevelopment.” It stated there is a “pressing need to demolish the tower blocks in the interest of public safety, which would be delayed if demolition had to rely on the approval of a planning application for a replacement development”.

The decision to demolish the blocks was made, following talks with the Scottish Government and the council, due to the extent of the “remedial works”, the need to decant residents while work took place, the duration of potential risk exposure and the “low-demand for high-rise homes”. Scottish Government funding has been provided for the rehousing programme, the report added.

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