The Northern Ireland Housing Executive has confirmed that it is making a bid to take ownership of a derelict block of flats in the Rathcoole estate.
The eyesore property at Old Irish Highway has been lying empty for several years, causing problems for residents in neighbouring houses in terms of anti-social behaviour and people fly-tipping rubbish at the site.
Following numerous calls from local residents and political representatives for the dilapidated building to be renovated or demolished, the Housing Executive has now applied to the Department for Social Development for an order vesting the privately-owned site.
“The Housing Executive has secured its board’s approval to submit a request to the Department for Social Development (DSD) for vesting of the flats. A notice of intention to vest has also been advertised,” an NIHE spokesperson confirmed.
“Plans for the flats will not be fully developed until such a time as vesting has been approved,” she added.
Welcoming the move by the Housing Executive to vest the land and bring it back into public ownership, North Belfast general election candidate, Nigel Dodds said: “This further development in the campaign to have the derelict flats brought back into public ownership is welcome news.”
The DUP man continued: “I have been working alongside local residents and community workers to have this blight removed for some considerable time.
“Through this united effort, we have been able to see real progress on this site, with the goal of having the site redeveloped for much needed social housing a step closer.
“We are committed to continuing our campaign until this blight which has dogged the local community for so long is removed.”
Asked if the site is likely to be redeveloped for social housing, the Housing Executive spokesperson would only say that “all options will be considered.”