Council to spend £13.8m buying leasehold flats in towers earmarked for demolition

Cheshire House and Shropshire House were found to be unsafe and will now be decommissioned, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Shropshire House, Shires Estate
Shropshire House, Shires Estate

Councillors have agreed plans to buy back leaseholder-owned homes in two Edmonton tower blocks which had their gas supplies cut over safety fears.

The decision follows Enfield Council’s announcement that it plans to decommission Cheshire House and Shropshire House after more than three-quarters of residents surveyed indicated they wanted to move out of the blocks and into better quality homes.

The 18-storey blocks, on Shires Estate, were found to be vulnerable to a gas explosion after undergoing structural safety tests. The council initially planned to connect the blocks to its district heating network, Energetik, and switch off the gas by January next year. It dropped the plans after the gas supplies had to be cut off urgently following the discovery of a leak at Cheshire House.

A council report deemed moving people out of the blocks and decommissioning them at a cost of £16.7million to be the “only viable and feasible option”. Maintaining and refurbishing the blocks to keep them in use would have cost £53m, with leaseholders picking up a “considerable” share of the bill.

During a full council meeting on Wednesday (14th), councillors agreed plans to buy back 41 properties owned by leaseholders, who had previously purchased their homes from the council, at a total cost of £13.8m. The offer to leaseholders will be based on market value plus an extra 10% home loss compensation.

For those unable to find a similar property off the estate, the council will consider helping them to purchase a new home by buying a share of the equity.

This story is published by Enfield Dispatch, Enfield's free monthly newspaper and free news website. We are a not-for-profit publication, published by a small social enterprise. We have no rich backers and rely on the support of our readers. Donate or become a supporter.

Council tenants will be eligible for home loss and disturbance payments totalling £10,300.

Council leader Nesil Caliskan said the plan for the future of the blocks had been “co-produced” with residents, and the offers to leaseholders would be independently assessed by surveyors.

Cllr Caliskan added: “We will make a fair, and clear, and consistent offer to every tenant and leaseholder in the building. We will cover the cost of moving, and we will give tenants one year to find a new and better home through choice-based lettings.”

The Conservatives supported the council’s plans to buy leaseholder-owned homes but continued to criticise its handling of the safety issues.

Lee Chamberlain, shadow cabinet member for housing, claimed the Tory opposition group had forced the administration into a U-turn on previous plans to “keep the gas flowing in rusty pipes” until the blocks were connected to the district heat network.

He said it was “disappointing” that the payments to leaseholders were being funded by “approved borrowing”, suggesting this would lead to cuts to council services elsewhere.

His Conservative colleague Chris Dey said the report had come “twelve months too late” as the council knew the blocks were vulnerable to a gas explosion in June 2022.

Cllr Dey added: “That is a shocking and tragic reality that came to light by the residents and the media just before Christmas, when it also came to light that our residents in these blocks were showering in the snow, in cold showers in portacabins.”

The Labour administration’s cabinet member for social housing, George Savva, hit back at the Tories and accused the opposition of “scaremongering” and “spreading rumours”.

Pointing out that tenants would be eligible for home loss payments, he added that they would also have their moving costs covered and one year to choose a new home. Cllr Savva said residents understood what the Labour group was doing to help them.

Following the debate, councillors unanimously agreed plans to buy back the leaseholder properties.

No news is bad news 

Independent news outlets like ours – reporting for the community without rich backers – are under threat of closure, turning British towns into news deserts. 

The audiences they serve know less, understand less, and can do less. 

In celebration of Indie News Week, Public Interest News Foundation's Indie News Fund will match fund all donations, including new annual supporter subscriptions for the month of June.

If our coverage has helped you understand our community a little bit better, please consider supporting us with a monthly, yearly or one-off donation. 

Choose the news. Don’t lose the news.

Monthly direct debit 

Annual direct debit

£5 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else, £10 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else and a print copy posted to them each month. £50 annual supporters get a digital copy of each month's paper before anyone else.  

Donate now with Pay Pal

More information on supporting us monthly or yearly 

More Information about donations