Meeting over ‘continued delays’ to housing works

Bluebell Hill Gardens in the Brandywell area of Derry.
Bluebell Hill Gardens in the Brandywell area of Derry.
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Sinn Féin Foyle MP Elisha McCallion has secured a meeting with the Housing Executive and residents to discuss “continued delays” to a major refurbishment scheme for Bluebell Hill Gardens.

The meeting comes amid frustration over the long-awaited start of work to address issues of damp and structural problems within a number of properties in the Brandywell estate.

Speaking to the Journal the Foyle MP said: “I was extremely disappointed to learn that the scheme to improve homes in Bluebell Hill Gardens that are currently in an unacceptable living standard will be delayed yet again until the New Year as far as March.

“This is unacceptable and I and my colleague Patricia Logue have demanded that senior officials from the Housing Executive come to the Brandywell and explain.”

Mrs McCallion questioned the Housing Executive reasoning that there are more remedial works needed than first envisaged, as two full site surveys were carried out.

“This simply isn’t good enough,” Mrs McCallion said. “I have secured a meeting with senior officials from the Housing Executive and residents on Monday, December 11 at 10am in the Gasyard Centre. I would encourage all residents to attend.”

It is understood scheduled insulation work includes plastering, insulation outside of homes, new windows, doors and roofing work. This will be followed over the next few years by the installation of new kitchens, external maintenance and heating upgrades for some of the homes.

Mrs. McCallion has previously complained that the delay in the thermal insulation works, which must precede all of these, will mean another cold, damp winter for local residents affected.

A Housing Executive spokesperson recently said the delay to the scheduled works was precipitated by the discovery that work was required to more dwellings than originally estimated.

The spokesperson said: “The delay in the commencement of works in Bluebell Hill Gardens is due to the fact that more works were required to the properties than was first envisaged.”

It is understood a tender process has ended and a contractor is due to be appointed over the coming weeks, with the work now scheduled to begin in February 2018.

“We apologise for the delay in the delivery of this scheme and we understand that while the timescale may be disappointing, complex capital schemes such as this have long development, approval and procurement stages, and it is important that we take the necessary time to prepare and deliver a comprehensive scheme that will fully address all of the issues in the properties to the satisfaction of our tenants,” the HE spokesperson said recently.