Belfast Telegraph

Future of NI's tower blocks under scrutiny

By Michael Sheils McNamee

Hundreds of families across Belfast could end up homeless after the Housing Executive said it may demolish 14 tower blocks.

A total of 33 high-rise buildings housing around 3,000 residents across Northern Ireland are being evaluated for "radical proposals", which came to light on Wednesday night.

Yesterday interim chair of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE), Professor Peter Roberts, said it would cost over £300m just to maintain the "deteriorating" blocks over the next three decades.

The NIHE's board said that it is considering the option of razing 33 of the buildings over the next 20 years, 14 of which are in Belfast, and will consult with residents and other stakeholders before any final decision is made.

"The health, safety and comfort of our tenants is our priority, however, our tower blocks are now reaching an age at which significant investment is required - over £300m over the next 30 years - to ensure they are of a decent standard," they said.

The NIHE said the tower blocks may be cheaper to replace than maintain to the highest safety standards.

However, many of the areas across Belfast where these tower blocks are located are also areas where current housing waiting list figures are "frightening", according to a local councillor.

The SDLP's Paul McCusker said that while he was concerned residents are safe from overall danger, many could be at risk of becoming homeless.

There are currently around 10,000 households on housing waiting lists across Belfast, with a further 7,000 in "housing stress". In the north and west of the city, levels are particularly high.

"It goes without saying that if there are concerns surrounding the safety of tower blocks then the appropriate measures must be taken to ensure all residents are safe from potential danger," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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