Tower Block Strategy

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 24th January 2017.

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Photo of Joanne Bunting Joanne Bunting DUP 2:30 pm, 24th January 2017

T8. Ms Bunting asked the Minister for Communities for an update on the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s tower block strategy. (AQT 693/16-21)

Photo of Paul Givan Paul Givan DUP

The tower block strategy was touched on in the debate earlier. The way in which the Northern Ireland Housing Executive manages the properties within its remit is entirely a matter for it. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive board has requested that its officers develop a comprehensive action plan for each tower block based on the options appraisal. It is intended to have the action plans submitted to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive board by the late summer of this year. However, I recognise that this is an issue for tenants in tower blocks, and it is one that they have been very exercised about. Obviously, the Housing Executive is dealing with that, and I hope that it will be able to expedite the matter so that people know what the plans are for the tower blocks.

Photo of Joanne Bunting Joanne Bunting DUP

I thank the Minister for his answer. Given the poor condition of the tower blocks, I welcome the fact that the plans will be in place by late summer, as the Minister said. When does he anticipate action starting to get remedial works under way in the blocks?

Photo of Paul Givan Paul Givan DUP

Remedial work for tenants should be being carried out where the need is presented. The Housing Executive has advised me that, as part of its overarching asset management strategy for all its homes, it undertook to include a dedicated strategy that determined an option appraisal for all 32 tower blocks that need to be developed. That has been completed, and the initial position was presented to the board for consideration at its meeting in November. This set out the significant investment requirements for the tower blocks and the associated high management costs, which would not represent good value for money.

At the meeting, the board agreed that the Housing Executive's long-term strategy should be to decommission all the tower blocks. The board also agreed that action, as appropriate, would be taken to maintain all tower blocks to an acceptable standard until such time as they are decommissioned. The Housing Executive board requested officers to develop a comprehensive action plan for each tower based on the options appraisal and to engage with tenants, communities, and local political representatives to identify future solutions.