Long Streets compensation decision postponed

By Staff Reporter

A decision on what compensation homeowners in a New Lodge community will receive when their homes are vested for redevelopment has been postponed until the outcome of a Lands Tribunal.

Long awaited plans to redevelop the Upper Long Streets are still on track but there are concerns that homeowners will be left in negative equity because they owe more on their homes than can be offered by the Department of Social Development.

A case concerning the same issue in the Village area of South Belfast is currently before the Lands Tribunal. The DSD have said any decision on the vesting of homes in New Lodge will be postponed until the outcome of that case. The case is scheduled for September. Upper Long Streets residents were this week updated on the issues.

Liam Wiggins from the Upper Long Street Residents Committee said that while the delay was disappointing he was still confident that the long awaited redevelopment would happen.

“It is disappointing but according to the Minister (Nelson McCausland) it is just a hitch and we hope that is the case” he said.

“The Committee was formed in 1999 so we have been waiting for quite a while but we are hopeful that it will still go ahead. Back then house prices where sky high and now people are in negative equity and that is a concern.”

North Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín said the government must find a legal way to act fairly.

“We had expressed our concerns during this entire redevelopment that some people would be left in negative equity due to the crash in property prices and this remains an issue of government finding a legal avenue to act fairly,” she said.

“Clearly we are pressing the Minister to act promptly and to ensure there are no undue bureaucratic delays.

“I’m encouraged that the department are moving to update residents and once again stressing their commitment to this vital redevelopment going ahead when this issue of valuation is resolved.”

A DSD spokeswoman confirmed that while Nelson McCausland has postponed a decision on the vesting he has “re-affirmed his commitment to the redevelopment plans for the Upper Long Streets”.

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