Rugby's 'poor quality' Biart Place is likely to be demolished as part of £23m redevelopment

Biart Place. Photo: Google Maps.
Biart Place. Photo: Google Maps.

The now mostly empty high rise blocks at Biart place are beyond economic repair and likely to be demolished before the site is potentially redeveloped with 130 new homes.

Rugby council began work on moving tenants out of the two blocks which comprise Biart Place in April this year after the results of extensive surveys on both Biart Place and Rounds Gardens, which revealed Biart Place had been built to a poor standard and may not perform as expected in a fire or explosion.

Cllr Michael Stokes, leader of Rugby Borough Council, said: “The multi-storey blocks at Rounds Gardens and at Biart Place have stood safely since they were built around fifty years ago, but it is disappointing to find that the build quality has been poor.

“While we never wanted to be in the position of undertaking such extensive strengthening or replacement work, we now have an opportunity to use the Biart Place site to provide council housing that better meets the needs of current and future tenants.

91 of the 124 flats at Biart Place are now vacant and the blocks are on course to be empty before the target date of March next year.

Initial work on costings found the buildings, constructed in around 1968, would cost around £20 million to repair, while a replacement would cost around £23 million.

And on Thursday, September 27, councillors will consider a report which recommends that work begins on selecting architects to design a replacement for Biart Place.

The previous survey included the blocks at Rounds Gardens - which were said to be in better condition than Biart Place, with an expected lifespan of more than 30 years - although floors and walls vary in thickness across their length and the effect of these non-conformities on the structure is not yet known.

For Rounds Gardens, the report recommends further survey work and, in the meantime, for funding to be set aside to install more fire alarm systems - based on a recommendation for Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Cllr Stokes said: "Whatever the final decision on Rounds Gardens, the total costs for both sites could reach £60 million. While the council has options to cover these costs they were not anticipated and they will have an impact.

"However, the safety and peace of mind of our tenants must come first and is not an area where I am willing to take risks. I will be asking the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government for their support to mitigate this impact.”

The agenda and reports for the meeting to be held on 27 September can be found at www.rugby.gov.uk/highrise