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Plea to halt demolition of Rathcoole high-rise flats


Plea: Deirdre Hargey

Plea: Deirdre Hargey

Plea: Deirdre Hargey

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council is to ask a Stormont department not to demolish four high-rise blocks of flats in Rathcoole.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey is being urged to intervene to save Abbotscoole House, Carncoole House, Monkscoole House and Glencoole House.

The council is also calling for "sufficient finance to be made available to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive for refurbishment of these properties" in recognition of the "housing need in north Belfast".

Alliance councillor Billy Webb, who proposed the motion, suggested that the cost of demolition would be in the region of £1m yet refurbishment would amount to £1.5m.

He said that a public meeting was held with residents to discuss the issue recently.

He indicated that one resident had purchased her flat just three years ago.

"She is facing now the possibility of losing her home," he said.

Mr Webb said that Monkscoole House is currently unoccupied after closing late last year.

The councillor went on to say he does not believe that the residents of the three remaining blocks, believed to be several hundred, could be rehoused in the immediate area.

His motion was seconded by DUP councillor Dean McCullough and Ulster Unionist Robert Foster.

Last month, a spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) said: "The Department for Communities approved the Housing Executive's business case recommending the demolition of Monkscoole House on January 10.

"It is likely that it will take at least a year before the block is demolished.

"This is due to the requirement to both appoint a consultant to prepare a demolition scheme and procure a contractor to undertake the work."

One of the neighbouring blocks in the Newtownabbey estate is also earmarked for demolition.

The spokesperson added: "In the Housing Executive's Tower Blocks Action Plan, it is proposed to also demolish the adjacent Abbotscoole House.

"As with the decision on Monkscoole House, this will require departmental approval of a business case.

"We currently propose to retain Carncoole House and Glencoole House for a period of at least 10 years, and undertake associated improvement works."

Macedon councillor Dean McCullough said that he was "delighted" to second the motion.

He reported that approximately 100 residents, who are concerned about the possibility of not being rehoused in the locality, attended the public meeting.

Mr McCullough also highlighted an existing waiting list for homes in the area.

"That is why we are saying there is a housing crisis and what needs to happen is Department for Communities needs to work in partnership with ourselves and residents to come up with innovative ways to ensure that regardless of what happens, the people of the multi-storeys can stay within the locality," he said.

"The multi-storeys should not be demolished. There should be adequate resources put in place to bring them up to standard.

"They are an iconic part of the fabric of Rathcoole.

"We have made it clear, this is not acceptable. It is running down part of our constituency."

Belfast Telegraph