Belfast Telegraph

Victoria Square refuses to split repair bill with residents

Residents have been forced to evacuated their homes for repairs to be carried out at the Victoria Square Apartments. Pic Presseye
Residents have been forced to evacuated their homes for repairs to be carried out at the Victoria Square Apartments. Pic Presseye
Residents have been forced to evacuated their homes for repairs to be carried out at the Victoria Square Apartments. Pic Presseye

By Alan Erwin

Representatives of a Belfast apartment block evacuated amid safety concerns about a structural column have approached owners of the adjoining shopping centre about sharing the costs of repairs.

With the bill for fixing the problem at the Victoria Square complex estimated to reach up to £1million, an informed source said the proposal was knocked back.

Photos have also emerged of the first signs of the damage - when steel reinforcement broke through the wall of one apartment two and a half months ago.

Last week residents in the complex were told to leave their homes immediately for safety reasons.

At the time lawyers for the Victoria Square Residential Management Company Ltd said the decision was based on assessments of the building carried out after the structural issue was initially identified.

The obtained images appear to show the steel reinforcement of a supporting column coming through the wall of a fourth floor apartment back in February.

Repair work is expected to take around 20 weeks, with costs running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Apartment owners who are shareholders in the management company have been asked to make contributions towards that bill.

Those costs may be recoverable at a later stage if any liability is established.

No damage has been identified in the adjoining Victoria Square shopping centre, where business is continuing as normal.

But a source close to the situation has revealed details of an approach made at the end of February.

Representatives of the residents' management company proposed that repair costs should be shared between it and the owners of the shopping centre in the event of other parties failing to cover the bill.

In response to that suggestion, however, it was stressed that the failure had occurred within the residential premises.

According to the source the cost-sharing proposal was turned down on that basis.

A statement issued on behalf of the shopping centre said: "Victoria Square Shopping Centre does not own the apartment complex and the management company, Victoria Square (Chichester Street) Residential Management Limited, has responsibility for all repair and maintenance works in relation to Victoria Square Apartments.

"Victoria Square Shopping Centre will provide access as required to contractors undertaking work on behalf of the owners of the residential block, which we understand is due to commence shortly."

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