Belfast Telegraph

£4m should ease Shankill’s ‘Dickensian’ conditions

Social Development minister Nelson McCausland has announced a £4m plan to improve housing in the Shankill area.

The scheme will target social houses managed by Harmony Homes at Leopold, Columbia and Rosebank Streets.

Plans include the major refurbishment of 118 properties which require significant modernisation. Elements will include new electrics and heating, kitchens and insulation. A number of properties will be converted to provide bigger family homes.

The oldest 14 houses remaining in Leopold Street will be demolished and replaced by 10 new three bedroom houses.

Mr McCausland recently visited the area to see the poor housing conditions. He also met with local residents to discuss options to improve their homes. “The people living in these three streets have had to put up with inadequate housing for far too long — I now intend to put that right,” he said.

“Proposals have now been drawn up by Harmony Homes, in consultation with local residents, to completely refurbish most of the homes and demolish those beyond repair to make way for new homes more suitable for modern |families.”

Mr McCausland added: “Good housing is the cornerstone of any community.

“I would encourage people living in the area to contribute their ideas to the final plans for their homes by getting involved with the tenants planning group being set up by Harmony Homes.”

A DSD spokesperson said: “Subject to all statutory approvals, the 10 new build houses will start before March 2012, with a contract period of 12 months.

“The 118 refurbishments will be completed in phases, commencing within this financial year. The estimated contract period for completion is 30 months.

The spokesperson added: “All of the new and refurbished homes will be completed to above Decent Homes Standard.”

William Humphrey, DUP MLA said: “We’ve been working for some time on the three streets with the local community and tenants forum.

“We support what the locals want and welcome the demolition of 14 houses in Leopold Street — people there were living in Dickensian conditions, many agree that those houses were some of the worst in Belfast, there were people getting health problems.

“The refurbishment of the other two streets is welcomed — as those two streets were hugely neglected in past times.”

He added: “This is a great boost for the area.”

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