Belfast Telegraph

Belfast trader's hell in unit under 'death trap' flats

By Brett Campbell

A business owner on Belfast's Great Victoria Street has described the misery of trading "under Niagara Falls" for the past five years.

The leaseholder, who operates from a ground floor unit below an eight-storey apartment complex that has been branded a "death trap" by one resident, believed construction work which began in March had been completed.

"I was told to expect two weeks of disruption. It was extended by a few weeks but I thought it was finished," he said.

The trader said he had been left out of pocket on multiple occasions since he opened the shop in 2013 underneath the Choice Housing complex.

"The tiles on the ceiling are discoloured and some have been removed due to flooding," he said.

"It's at the point where I don't even replace them now, there's no point.

"I have come in on many mornings to find stock lying in puddles of water and it has been left for me to pick up the cost."

He believes the constant leaks originate from the roof of the complex.

"It's like working under Niagara Falls, but nothing ever gets done to fix it," he claimed.

In yesterday's Belfast Telegraph a disabled resident expressed serious concerns about the empty building site inside the complex's courtyard.

He warned that people could be left to "burn alive" if falling debris blocked narrow lanes reserved around the perimeter of the sealed-off work site.

Choice Housing did not respond to questions, but previously told the Belfast Telegraph that a full "construction stage" health and safety plan was in place. It blamed "inclement weather" and "issues with contractor performance" for delays.

It rejected "any suggestion that our tenants have been imperilled".

Choice is expected to meet with residents today.

The Health and Safety Executive NI said an inspector visited the site yesterday and was satisfied the building had been made safe.

Although it added that its "remit is limited" as no building work is ongoing.

Belfast Telegraph

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