South Ayrshire Council has been accused of “jumping the gun” as it looks to rush through the £1.9m demolition of Ayr’s high flats, despite the fact that residents still remain in their homes.
The Leadership Panel will be asked to consider fast-tracking demolition of the Riverside Place buildings, with work pencilled in to begin in February for around six months.
It is understood that the number of residents remaining in the flats will be down to single figures within a couple of weeks.
One of the reasons SAC cites for the sudden move, which is being made before any designs for the new flats have been revealed, is to clear away vegetation prior to bird nesting season.
The council also says it is in advanced talks over the relocation of a telecommunications mast which is contracted to sit on the top of one of the blocks until 2025.
Norman McLean, chairman of Fort, Seafield and Wallacetown Community Council, has campaigned against the demolition and hit out at the latest move.
He said: “This is jumping the gun and should be legally challenged.
“It appears that the original design has not been adopted and therefore there are no design proposals, there is no planning application for ‘approximately 96 houses’ and there appears to be more concern for the birds than the now few remaining residents.”
He questioned whether spending £1.9m in ‘anticipation’ of approval of designs, government subsidies and planning consent was about ‘nesting season’ or was an attempt to ‘block any possible change of policy by an incoming administration in May.
He added: “This whole project appears to be completely out of control.
“The money from the Housing Capital Programme would be better spent in Wallacetown to insulate these houses in anticipation of huge hikes in
long-term energy costs.
“Consideration has, of course, also to be given to the carbon emissions created by demolition works.”
Officials want to make use of a system which would allow them to bring in contractors to carry out demolition work, despite not having completed the main contract proposals.
In a report to the Leadership Panel, assistant director of place, Kevin Carr, states: “Prior to the development of affordable homes, there is a requirement to demolish the existing buildings on the site – the high rise flats at Riverside Place.
“It is proposed that these demolitions are carried out as an enabling works contract in advance of the main works.
“Subject to approval, it is proposed to commence the demolition phase by the end of February 2022 with the works taking approximately 26 weeks to complete.
“A further report with the final proposals, costs and programme will be submitted to Leadership Panel.
“One of the services offered by HubSW to fast-track the construction programme is the use of enabling contracts which facilitates early works to prepare the site whilst the development of the main works proposals is concluded.
“In this case there is a requirement to commence a site strip (vegetation) at the end of February to make sure this is under way before the start of the nesting season, otherwise site start would be delayed for a number of months.”
By local democracy reporter Kevin Dyson