Empty flats in the Redburn and Loughview area of Holywood need to be filled with families, a local community worker has said.
Louise Green, from Redburn Loughview Community Forum, said the flats at West Green have been vacant for over a year now and resources were being used to keep the area tidy “instead of being used to clean up the inside of the flats to make them habitable again”.
Louise said: “These houses are sitting boarded up with nowhere for people to live.
“We’re still sitting with 100 flats empty and people needing homes. This is a year after we were promised improvements around here.”
She said that the flats were now becoming “a bit of an eyesore”.
“Most of the flats look like a paintball site and now graffiti is starting to appear everywhere,” she continued.
“The children go in to these flats; it’s coming up towards July 12 and we’re worried that they might go inside these flats and remove everything to burn it. You just wouldn’t know the situation.”
According to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, at the end of December 2009 there were 307 households on the waiting list for a home in Holywood, of which 146 were deemed to be ‘in housing stress’. There are approximately 100 flats at West Green.
A spokesman for the Housing Executive said: “The Housing Executive is committed to tackling issues that make a real difference to people’s quality of life including the physical and social regeneration of local neighbourhoods.
“In recent years the flats at West Green in Loughview estate became unpopular and difficult to let because of ongoing incidents of anti-social behaviour.
“The Housing Executive is currently considering a range of options with regard to resolving the issues concerning these flats and, in consultation with the Department for Social Development, will seek to identify the best option for their future use.”
North Down MLA Alex Easton has called on the Minister for Social Development Margaret Ritchie to focus on cleaning up the vacant flats. “Loughview estate is an area in need. These flats have been vacant for sometime and are a blight on the whole area,” he said.
“We must see action and see the Minister act. People are after housing yet these flats remain vacant because they require a great deal of maintenance work.
“It is important that we see something done about them sooner rather than later to enhance the image of the area.”
A spokesman for the Department of Social Development said: “The department is finalising its Economic Appraisal and is at an advanced stage. An announcement on the future of Loughview flats will be made in due course.”
Are you on the Housing Executive waiting list? Would you like to live in one of these flats if it was cleaned up? If so, we would like to hear from you and campaign on your behalf. Contact us on 028 9026 4353 or email our reporter at email@example.com