St Albans tower block Telford Court faces demolition

A view of Telford Court taken from the roof of the South Transept of the Cathedral.

A view of Telford Court taken from the roof of the South Transept of the Cathedral. - Credit: Danny Loo

For over 50 years, the towering sentinel of Telford Court has cast a shadow over St Albans - but that could all change following plans to knock it down and relocate its residents.

St Albans district council (SADC) is currently consulting tenants and leaseholders living in the city's only high-rise about plans to demolish the block and neighbouring maisonettes.

Council staff and councillors have concluded that the age and structure of the controversial 1960s building means the changes needed to bring the building in line with new safety regulations are impossible, and that it has reached the end of its purposeful life.

Telford Court

Telford Court - Credit: Archant

A letter from tenancy services and performance manager Joanne Turner said: "We believe it is better all round to replace Telford Court with new modern homes and to help our tenants find new homes and our leaseholders to sell their properties.

"We know this will be difficult news for some residents, while for others it may be a welcome opportunity."

Should demolition be approved following the end of the consultation period on June 21, council tenants will be given top priority to find a new home, while SADC would buy all leasehold flats at the market rate based on an independent valuation.

The council would also provide money and practical assistance to help all residents to move, working on the basis that Telford Court will close within 18 months to two years.

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During its lifetime, Telford Court has seen its fair share of criminal activity and tragedy.

One of the most infamous incidents was the mysterious death-plunge of Shumin Hussain from a ninth floor window.

Shumin Hussain fell from the ninth floor of Telford Court, St Albans.

Shumin Hussain fell from the ninth floor of Telford Court, St Albans. - Credit: Herts Police

Shumin died of multiple injuries, including a severe head injury, at the age of 29 after falling from the window on September 7, 2003.

Three years later, at a four-day inquest into his death, deputy coroner David Pidgeon was unable to confirm whether Shumin was forced from the window or fell from it.

In total, 11 people were arrested during what became a massive police investigation but no-one was ever charged. In September 2013, a £3,000 reward was offered by Crimestoppers for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the murder of Shumin - to no avail.

Fortunately extensive fire safety checks carried out at Telford Court following the Grenfell Tower tragedy revealed none of the flammable cladding which may have exacerbated the London blaze has been used in the district.

In recent years several properties in the high-rise block have been closed due to antisocial behaviour and suspected drug offences. In one incident in December 2019 officers searching a flat found Class A drugs and stolen goods.

St Albans Safer Neighbourhood Insp Andy Wiseman said at the time: "No one should have to put up with this kind of behaviour where they live."