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Somerstown community engagement shortlisted for prestigious national award

Public engagement work on the Horatia and Leamington Houses deconstruction and redevelopment has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award.

A joint team comprising Portsmouth City Council and London-based Karakusevic Carson Architects has been recognized for its 'extraordinary' efforts to draw the local community into the deconstruction of the two 1960s Somerstown tower blocks and to involve local people at every stage of the development of plans for the housing, green space and play facilities that will replace the buildings.

The news comes as Portsmouth City Council releases a drone footage progress video which shows the blocks coming down.

The Public Sector Transformation Awards, noted as 'an opportunity to celebrate and share the most innovative practice in transforming public services' offered a platform to showcase the engagement work surrounding the extensive project.

"It's great that the hard work everyone has put in is being nationally-recognised," said Cllr Darren Sanders, Cabinet Member for Housing and Preventing Homelessness.

"For too long, people in Somerstown were told what was good for them. This work means that - at long last - they can shape the future of their area and that is wonderful to see," he added.

Paul Karakusevic, partner at Karakusevic Carson Architects said "We have had a brilliant time working with Portsmouth City Council on such an ambitious and wide-reaching community engagement programme.

"Collaborating with residents and communities in the design process is fundamental to creating the homes and neighbourhoods that people need, and Portsmouth City Council’s forward-thinking approaches have set a new benchmark for the public sector."

The deconstruction of Horatia and Leamington has been a long-running and wide-reaching project which has seen the creation of a community panel, which has been meeting every month for more than a year, and which allows local residents to have an unprecedented level of say in the design process.

Fun community events throughout the project have received praise from local residents. These public open drop-in sessions have included a play and plants event, a lighting workshop and the Forest of Somerstown community mural that left one local resident saying they 'love being part of the community, and the kids were looking forward to it all week'.

Earlier this month between 350 and 400 local people got together in the café at Somerstown Central (the Hub) to help a local artist create a 3m mural full of the community's ideas for a name for the new development that will replace the blocks.

To find out more about the project and to watch two-minute videos of the fun community sessions go to www.horatialeamington.portsmouth.gov.uk.

To join the community panel and to ask any questions about the project call Tim Raw on 07901 100537, email tim.raw@portsmouthcc.co.uk.

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