Belfast Telegraph

Residents fear block of flats could collapse after massive cracks appear in the walls

By Donna Deeney

Residents in an apartment block in Londonderry fear the building is subsiding after huge cracks appeared on a number of walls.

Conars Court - which was built as high specification flats for the private market 10 years ago at the peak of the property boom - lay empty for some time after the developer went bust.

Habinteg Housing Association acquired the majority of the apartments for use as social housing in 2014, but tenants claim they have been plagued by faults in the building.

These include a gas installation which a public health inspection declared as a real danger and led to the supply being shut off last year until remedial work to the connections met safety standards.

This was achieved late last year, after tenants had been without heat or hot water for months.

New issues around the possibility of subsidence, as well as fire safety concerns, have left the residents fearful.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Robbie White of the Conars Court Residents Group said tenants were growing increasingly frustrated and concerned about the long-term future of their homes.

He said: "Around six months ago cracks started appearing all over the building, which we fear could be because it is subsiding.

"There are over 100 of these cracks spread across the apartment block of 47 flats and we do not believe for one second they are 'settling' cracks, which was suggested by Habinteg, because the building was built in 2007.

"After the long and protracted struggle we had to get the unfit gas supply sorted, which left us without gas for months, we are now faced with the real fear that the entire building might collapse.

"This comes after we contacted Habinteg and asked for a meeting because we were concerned about the state of the building and fire safety issues, only to be told he wasn't going to meet us."

Habinteg has appointed a consultant to inspect the cracks.

A spokesman for Habinteg said it takes residents' concerns seriously.

He added: "Once this report has been completed the association will meet with residents

"The survey will be a detailed and extensive piece of work to ensure that the all appropriate standards are met. Habinteg will, of course, implement recommendations which arise out of the report.

"We are keen to work constructively with the residents to address any concerns and ensure any necessary work highlighted is carried out as quickly as is possible."

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