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Belfast Obel's tower of rubbish angers residents

By Claire McNeilly

Published 02/10/2015

Residents of the high-end Obel apartment building are angry that the rubbish was allowed to pile up
Residents of the high-end Obel apartment building are angry that the rubbish was allowed to pile up
Residents of the high-end Obel apartment building are angry that the rubbish was allowed to pile up
Residents of the high-end Obel apartment building are angry that the rubbish was allowed to pile up

Residents have told of their anger that one of Belfast's most exclusive buildings has been turned into a rubbish tip.

A number of people who live in The Obel tower block complained that refuse, which hadn't been collected for weeks, had built up to worrying levels in the luxury building at Donegall Quay.

Rats had also been sighted on several occasions in the basement of the plush 28-storey residential tower - where short-term rent can cost up to £1,000 per night according to its website - and which has an adjoining six-storey office block.

A 61-year-old inhabitant on the 12th floor of Ireland's tallest building, who asked not to be named, said there had been persistent problems with rubbish building up for the past six months.

"This week is the worst it has ever been," he said.

"Bags of rubbish were bursting out of the bin room, which is 30ft long and 20ft wide, and there were piles of debris up to six feet high in the underground car park itself.

"I have already seen three rats running around and the stench was so bad the other night that a woman was almost physically sick.

"The chutes residents use for rubbish haven't been open for three weeks as the bins are full, and we have had to go to the underground dump now with rubbish in hand.

"Recycling hasn't been possible either, as those bins were also full."

He added: "I've been here for two years and I've watched the situation deteriorate over the last six months since a new management company took over."

When the Belfast Telegraph visited the building this week, a clean-up operation was under way, but there were still scores of bags strewn over Level -2.

Two men in white protective suits, also wearing face masks and gloves, were removing them from the concrete floor and putting them into an unmarked white van.

"It's all very well and good that they've finally decided to do something about it, but what happens the next time it gets out of control?" the resident said.

"We are paying a fortune to stay in these so-called luxury apartments and you definitely don't expect to be confronted by an open rubbish tip when you open the glass doors to get into the bottom level car park."

A female resident, who has also been in The Obel for two years, said there was a general problem with recycling in the building.

"People are not separating out their rubbish as they ought to into the proper bins and the problem is just getting worse," she said.

One sign on the wall at Level -2, pointing towards the glass entrance doors of the building from the car park, which reads "Apple Luxury Serviced Apartments" was, ironically, directing people towards the remains of the stinking rubbish on Tuesday.

Notwithstanding another sign, on the wall opposite, that says "No Dumping Please Use Bins Provided", there were half-ripped bags of every colour in heaps on the ground, while other refuse, including apples and other fruit, as well as bread, was lying around.

A spokesman for Belfast City Council said there had been reports of overflowing bins there in the past.

"We've assessed the complex and what we're providing in refuse collection is more than adequate for a complex of that size if people are recycling their rubbish properly," he said.

He added that there is a general waste collection from the complex every fortnight and three recycling collections every week, subcontracted out to Bryson House. A spokesperson for The Obel said: "Management was made aware of this issue on Tuesday and immediately took the necessary steps to clear the area.

"The Obel has a waste management programme in place in partnership with Belfast City Council to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill.

"We will continue to work closely with both the council and residents to encourage recycling and responsible waste disposal in order to prevent this from happening again."

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