A SCOTTISH local authority this week unveiled a radical plan to use private sector finance to pay for the refurbishment of its tower blocks.
North Lanarkshire Council claimed that its proposal to lease overcladding and mechanical and electrical systems rather than buy the materials outright would allow it to quadruple refurbishment work on its tower block stock.
In the past, North Lanarkshire Council has carried out replacement overcladding and M&E system repairs itself. But the capital cost of this, it said, limited the work to one tower block refurbishment per year. With a total of 10 blocks to refurbish, the council's plans to renovate all of its blocks looked set to run for another 10 years. The new leasing scheme will allow four blocks a year to be completed.
Under the old system, the overcladding work cost between £1.5M and £2M per year. Under the new leasing arrangement the council claims it will be able to keep its annual expenditure at the same levels despite interest payments pushing up the overall cost of work.
A council spokesman said the benefits of the scheme outweighed the additional cost. 'This will improve conditions for tenants in a considerably shorter timescale,' he said.
'They can expect warmer, more energy-efficient homes within a year or two rather than in a decade.'
The initiative was prompted by contractor Miller, who is expected to bid for the £20M overcladding contract due to be advertised in the Official Journal of the European Communities over the next month. Details are yet to be finalised but it is expected the council will continue to carry out design work in house.