Plans to demolish 40 dwellings in the Doury Road estate are to be put on hold by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE).
A NIHE spokesperson revealed to this newspaper on Friday that the housing body is to ‘pause’ progress of those plans and to work with the recently established Doury Road ‘Building Successful Communities Forum’ on the issue.
The statement came in response to claims by local politicians that NIHE was attempting to ‘push through’ a demolition order on residents.
DUP Assemblyman Paul Frew stated: “Residents have received letters telling them to open negotiations with them (NIHE) to re-purchase their homes. The people want the area improved not razed to the ground,” said the DUP Assemblyman who also pointed out that he had put his concerns in writing to the DSD Minister and Chief Executive of Housing Executive.
UUP Assemblyman Robin Swann claimed that 22 families in the estate had received “notices to quit” and that he had challenged the DSD Minister to intervene.
“I ask the Minister to intervene with those families because I have had families in turmoil, not knowing what the direction is. I have had the community association in turmoil, not knowing what the direction is, I have heard of a 70-year-old woman in tears, not knowing what her time was going to be in her own home,” said Mr Swann.
The NIHE spokesperson said: “The Housing Executive has been working hard over a number of years to bring about significant improvements in the popularity of the Doury Road estate, and while some parts of the estate are now fully occupied, unfortunately there remain pockets with large numbers of vacant houses.
“In that context and in the absence of a waiting list, the Housing Executive Board had concluded that the demolition of 40 dwellings, more than half of which are currently vacant, was the most appropriate course of action at this stage.
“The Housing Executive had planned to acquire the privately owned properties by mutual consent and has been doing so on this basis.
“The Housing Executive, furthermore, welcomes the recent announcement by the Minister to establish the Building Successful Communities Forum for Doury Road.
“To that end, the Housing Executive will pause the progression of its demolition plans and we will work with the Forum to ensure our plans compliment any proposals going forward in the area,” the spokesperson said.