Plans to demolish Rugby's 'poor quality' Biart Place approved

The Biart Place blocks are now set to be demolished.
The Biart Place blocks are now set to be demolished.

Plans to demolish the town's mostly empty Biart Place blocks after concerns over its build quality were approved at Rugby council's meeting last night, September 27.

The site may now be redeveloped with around 130 new homes, with the council also voting to fund further survey work on Rounds Gardens to assess whether it is worth refurbishing or demolishing.

Rugby Borough Council began moving tenants out of the two blocks at Biart Place in April this year after a survey found they had been built to a poor standard and may not perform as expected in a fire or explosion.

Now 91 out of the 124 flats in the block are empty – with 13 more households expected to leave imminently. The council expects Biart Place to be empty by March 31 next year.

The report that Rugby Council will at the meeting stated that the council has two options.

It could spend around £20m refurbishing the Biart Place blocks, or around £23m demolishing them and building around 130 council homes on the site.

Residents would have had to be moved from the blocks no matter what option the council chooses.

The report estimated that, if the blocks were to be refurbished, they could be ready by May 2021.

But the decision to demolish means new homes on the site could be ready by May 2022.

Although refurbishing the blocks would have been potentially faster and, in the short term, cheaper – the report recommended that the towers be demolished on the basis that it would be uneconomical to repair them.

A limited lifespan of the blocks, even if refurbished, and low tenant satisfaction levels were the key reasons given for the recommendation to demolish.

Survey work on Rounds Gardens found the blocks to be in better condition than Biart Place, but the council agreed that more needed to be done to establish their condition.

The report warned that the money needed to solve the problems at Biart Place and Rounds Gardens will have an ‘extraordinary impact’ on the council’s ring- fenced housing budget.

Councillor Michael Stokes, leader of Rugby Borough Council, said work on Biart Place and Rounds Gardens could total £60 million, and he would be approaching central government for financial assistance.

“I will be asking the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government for their support to mitigate this impact," he said.

If central government funding is not available, the council can seek to temporarily increase its housing budget debt cap.