Village community being ‘torn apart'
The re-development of the Village area of Belfast has ‘torn what was once a close- knit community into two.’ The Greater Village Regeneration Trust plans to bulldoze 40% of the houses and rebuild.
But feelings are running high between those who want the houses knocked down and those who want to stay where they are.
Many residents have already left, leaving boarded up houses which are causing damp and attracting mice and vandals.
One woman, Marie Shepherd said: “I didn’t go for advance purchase because my mother who is 86 years old, lives across the road and she needs cared for. We had to stay to the end, but we never imagined it would be this bad.
“There is damp in my home now the house next door is boarded up.
“I have never seen any community torn apart the way we have been torn apart.
“Our houses were to be vested on April 19, but as time goes on we are sure to lose money on the price. The place is a slum.”
Jeanette Caldwell, from Soudan Street, said: “We can hear mice from the boarded up house next door. The whole area is a state. We want all these houses to be knocked down immediately.
“What is the hold up? There is no community to save here any more. Most have gone.”
However another resident from the other side of Donegall Road, says she was horrified when she found out that her and her mother’s homes were to be vested and ultimately knocked down.
The woman, who asked to remain anonyomous for fear of reprisals, said her neighbour had moved but his new home was too small for his furniture.
“He tells me he really misses living here and his home. He would give anything to be able to move back. Instead the house is all concreted up.
“It’s increasing crime in the area as a result. Thieves stole parts of the chimney last week, and damaged part of my roof in the process.
“Every house on our street but one do not want our houses vested and then knocked down. Neither my mother, nor myself will get the money to buy a new house through this vesting. My mother who is in her 80s will have to enter a shared ownership scheme. Why when she has a great house already to live in and all paid for?”
Billy Dickson, of Broadway Parade, said: “I want to know why so many houses have been boarded up. It looks like advance purchase has been signed off for everyone, but they haven’t thought of the consequences. It has caused so many to move out too soon and leave the rest living like this.
“I can understand why more people want to leave now, it is depressing. But what happens to the community, the heritage and culture of the place?
“Yes we need the area developed and new and bigger houses for families. But why this way and with an arbituary line drawn straight through the Village, with one side to be demolished and the other refurbished — it makes no sense.”