THE remarkable transformation of a rundown tower block is under way.

And people in Huddersfield have been given their first look at the new-look Richmond Flats.

The tower block, standing on Huddersfield’s ring road, is undergoing a £3.7m makeover.

And now scaffolding around the building is being dismantled, people can see the extensive work that has been done on the exterior of the block.

Two adjacent blocks – the Lonsbrough and Ibbotson flats – are set to be demolished as part of a huge project to create a new Tesco superstore on the site of Huddersfield Sports Centre.

 

But the Richmond flats are being renovated, although some people have complained about the cost.

The scheme works out at an average of £87,500 per flat.

The work to Richmond Flats was originally set to cost £2.1m, as detailed in Kirklees Council’s five-year Capital Investment Plan.

But by the time it was approved by planners the cost had increased.

The work includes coloured render and glazing, re-cladding of the entire building, a new lobby and security system.

Balconies will be replaced and solar panels installed on the roof.

Each of the 22 flats will get a new kitchen and bathroom and the 21 bedsits will be converted into one-bedroom apartments.

The £3.7m for the revamp will come from three sources.

More than £2.1m of the cash has been earmarked from the Housing Revenue Account, which is funded by council house tenants’ rent, a further £1.3m will come from the Public Sector Housing section of the Capital Plan.

The European Regional Development Fund will contribute £230,000 to pay for solar panels, triple-glazing and external thermal rendering.

The work started several months ago and is expected to take several more weeks to complete, with work now starting on the interior of each flat.

Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing, who are managing the project, say there will be strict guidelines about the new tenants who will be offered the new-look flats.

They concede there have been problems with some tenants living in the three tower blocks in the past.

A KNH spokesman said: “We want to create a real mixed community in the new flats and tenants will be expected to abide by strict guidelines. We do not want a repeat of the problems in the past.”

Lonsbrough Flats were the first of the three 11-storey blocks of flats to be built, in 1961.

Richmond Flats were finished the following year and Ibbotson Flats completed the trio in 1964.

Richmond Flats when it was opened in 1962
Richmond Flats when it was opened in 1962
 

Lonsbrough and Ibbotson were named after two Huddersfield sporting heroes – swimmer Anita Lonsbrough and athlete Derek Ibbotson.

Richmond Flats were named after the designer of all three blocks, Huddersfield Borough Council’s architect Sidney Richmond.

The flats included modern features such as thermostatic underfloor heating and wiring for television when they were opened in 1961.

Rent for a one-bedroom flat in 1961 was 36s 2d a week (£1.81 in today’s money).