NIHE offers to meet residents living in the shadow of Dingwell flats

Protest at Craigavon Civic Centre over Dingwell Park in Lurgan
Protest at Craigavon Civic Centre over Dingwell Park in Lurgan

The NIHE has offered to meet Taghnevan residents after a litany of serious complaints about Dingwell flats in Lurgan.

A local group, Dingwell Residents Association, claimed the NIHE has spent £1m maintaining and repairing the flats which ‘are the main eyesore of the area’.

Complaints also include 439 police call outs, 11 fire service call outs and 256 ambulance service call outs within a year ‘placing pressure on all Upper Bann services at a time of austerity in the public sector’.

A DRA spokesperson said: “Despite this NIHE still remain very flippant about their use of the public purse, unashamedly throwing good money after bad on these flats with last year alone needing 308 repair callouts by NIHE.”

“The flats run at a financial loss each year, making £22,049 income for NIHE while a minimum of £24,066 is spent on repairs alone last year.

“When difficult questions are asked through Freedom of Information requests NIHE show their attitude towards residents by asking for a disgraceful charge of £6,985 for one FOI and £1085 for another.

“It is a fact that from a plain business point of view these flats are running at a clear loss year on year. The cost of keeping them standing, putting continuous and increasing pressure on Upper Bann services for the next 10 years, against the cost of demolition is a ‘no brainer’.

“NIHE will continue to proclaim ‘Demand Demand’ in order to justify their existence. The fact is that out of 45 offers for these flats last year 33 people refused them and only 12 accepted them. That is a 20 percent refusal rate on a list of 174 looking for flats. Simply put the flats are a dumping ground.

“Other areas of Lurgan have much greater demand for social housing, yet good money is constantly misused on the repair of these flats. The fact is that these flats have been and will always be a failure. Instead of wasting more public money on them, demolish them and redirect the money to other social housing needs in the area, while transferring the land to a housing association. This is a practical solution being applied in the Lenadoon flats but one it seems that the Taghnevan area is not worthy of at present.

“The negative effects of social erosion of the area, aesthetic impact, and anxiety the flats have on the Taghnevan area as a whole, impacting on hundreds of families, elderly residents, children, far outweighs NIHE need to house problem cases in this one area of Taghnevan” said a DRA spokesperson.

The concerns of the residents were put to the NIHE which responded. “A number of residents from the Taghnevan estate were present and staged a protest at Thursday night’s PCSP meeting (Thursday 15th June) held at Craigavon Civic Centre.

“Senior members of the local Housing Executive office attended the meeting, where concerns were raised. We have offered to meet with representatives of the community at the local office to further discuss these issues.

“The Housing Executive remains committed to continuing to work to improve the lives of residents on our estates.”