Progress continues towards the provision of new, more energy efficient housing in one of South Belfast’s most deprived areas.
The demolition of properties at Lower Rockview Street represents the most tangible progress to date in the regeneration of the Village urban renewal area. Local Green Party members have welcomed the development, but have warned individuals scavenging for building materials are putting themselves in serious danger.
Clare Bailey, Green Party spokesperson for South Belfast, commented: “The regeneration of the Village has been controversial, but all groups in the area now recognise that the Housing Executive proposal is now the only option on the table for getting rid of unfit housing, reducing energy bills and ensuring homes are suitable for people at every stage of life.
“I am pleased to see the first demolitions take place. This will reassure residents that progress is being made and will hopefully reduce the amount of antisocial behaviour associated with abandoned housing in the area. It is important that work on new homes gets underway as soon as possible so that sites do not lie derelict and so that residents who have been displaced have the opportunity to return.”
Mark Simpson, a local Green Party activist and member of the Community Design Team for the regeneration project, added: “There is an opportunity for the Village to become a showcase for modern, energy efficient housing. The Community Design Team is currently discussing the next steps in the regeneration with Fold Housing Association and will be keeping pressure on all agencies involved to ensure that high quality housing is in place as soon as possible.
“Residents with any thoughts or questions should contact a member of the team – they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clare Bailey added: “It is disappointing to see that a second row of houses has had its front walls illegally demolished, apparently to allow the removal of bricks from the site for sale. This represents a serious hazard to anyone in the area as the buildings are left in an unstable condition and with asbestos still present.
“I would urge local people to stay away from the demolition site and to make sure their children do the same. The Housing Executive has said it will prosecute anyone found removing materials, but more importantly you could be seriously injured or killed.
“I would encourage the Housing Executive and contractor to consider whether materials can be taken away from sites sooner following future demolitions and reused or recycled to the maximum extent possible.”