Plans to rebuild gas blast flats
Nearly a year after a huge gas explosion gutted a row of South Ashford flats, a planning application has been lodged to rebuild the properties.
On June 15 last year, a fireball ripped through the row of eight council-owned properties in Oak Tree Road, leaving 10 people homeless.
Dozens of nearby homes were evacuated and one resident was taken to a specialist burns unit in London with serious injuries.
The Health and Safety Executive began an investigation into the blast but ruled that no further action would be taken.
Ashford Borough Council has submitted two planning applications for the demolition and rebuilding of the block of flats.
A council spokesman said housing officers, loss adjusters, building control officers and architects have been working up schemes for the plot.
He said: “By mid-June contractors will be appointed and it is anticipated that by the end of June contractors will be setting up in readiness for the rebuild or demolition and rebuild.
“While we will not be disclosing the details of the insurance settlement, we can confirm that there will be no cost to the council other than that of inviting tenders and the minor costs for the planning applications for both the renovation options.”
Both planning applications will see a like-for-like replacement of the properties – eight one-bedroom flats of the same height. The flats will be weatherboarded and rebuilt to new specifications.
People who lived there will be offered the opportunity to move back in, although they will not be under any obligation to do so.
Cllr Paul Clokie, portfolio holder for housing and home ownership, said: “I am pleased that we are almost at a point where the final chapter can be written in this incident.
“Although the site has looked fairly similar for the last year, a lot of work has been going on within the council to agree the insurance settlement and work with the appropriate professionals.
“We await formal planning permission but the new homes will have both an improved appearance and thermal capacity.
“Once again, we thank nearby residents for their patience and support during the last year.”
To see the plans search for 16/00674/AS and 16/00669/AS at planning.ashford.gov.uk
Contractors work to make the area safe after a gas explosion destroyed a block of flats at Oak Tree Road last year