Redevelopment of derelict flats a step closer

The derelict block of flats at Old Irish Highway, Rathcoole. INNT 31-509CON
The derelict block of flats at Old Irish Highway, Rathcoole. INNT 31-509CON

The long-awaited redevelopment of a derelict block of flats in the Rathcoole estate is likely to take place in the next financial year.

A vesting order for the eyesore site at Old Irish Highway, which has been lying derelict for several years, took effect on September 28, meaning a redevelopment project can now move ahead.

The Housing Executive confirmed this week that it has officially taken ownership of the property, and that Helm Housing is the nominated housing association to progress proposals for the site.

A spokesman for Helm Housing said that consultation will take place with local residents and political and community representatives for the area prior to the project moving ahead.

Once plans for the site are finalised, Helm will have to seek planning approval for the redevelopment.

“This is a long-term project and it won’t be completed this year. The scheme is likely to be completed in the 2016/17 financial year,” the spokesman told the Times.

Welcoming the completion of the vesting process, North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said: “Bringing the site into public ownership is a major milestone in our long campaign to have this blight removed from the local community and replaced with much needed family homes.

“My party colleagues and I have been meeting with the NIHE on an ongoing basis for some considerable time to progress this development as soon as possible.

“I am delighted for local residents that they will no longer be forced to live next to this disgraceful blight and would like to thank them and other community representatives for their support during this campaign.”

The DUP man added: “We will continue to work closely with the NIHE and local residents to ensure a speedy redevelopment process.”