By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter
Lewisham council spent nearly £1.7 million repairing an estate it plans to tear down.
Milford Towers, made up of four five-storey blocks with 276 flats, is set to be flattened as part of the redevelopment of the council-owned Catford Shopping Centre.
The local authority plans to build about 800 homes in its place
But a resident recently asked how the council could justify tearing it down after spending so much on repairs just three years ago.
Resident Adam Longbottom asked how much the refurbishment works to the estate had cost, in a July public question ahead of a full council meeting.
He said: “Can the council justify the proposal to now fully demolish Milford Towers after this expenditure, and why has this been allowed to occur?”
Councillor Paul Bell, cabinet member for housing and planning, said the works set the council back £1,690,059, but that they were vital to keep people safe.
He said: “Milford Towers are managed by the council’s housing company, Lewisham Homes.
“As an arms-length management organisation (ALMO), Lewisham Homes is responsible for the management, maintenance and repair of housing stock within its portfolio.
“Concrete repair works of this kind are not uncommon in a building of this age, and were undertaken for reasons of health and safety.
“These were works identified following evidence of spalling concrete that could present a risk to the public and property.
“Further surveys revealed that areas of concrete were failing across the whole estate including areas over the Catford Shopping Centre.
“As a result, the works were considered to be essential and could not have been left until such time that the building can be fully vacated and demolished in order to provide new homes.
“Previous consultation carried out with residents of Milford Towers found clear support for plans to demolish Milford Towers and provide new housing on this site.
“It is anticipated that this will provide a net increase of about 800 homes on site, providing more family-sized accommodation and new social homes for residents on the council’s housing waiting list.”
A spokeswoman for the council said most of the estate’s original tenants and leaseholders have been rehoused.
She said: “There are a small number of the original tenants and leaseholders remaining who the council are continuing to support should they wish to move or sell at this time.
“When properties become vacant, they are used as temporary accommodation while work continues on detailed plans for the redevelopment of Milford Towers.”
Pictured top: Milford Towers
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