Tenants of Larne estate claim ‘primitive’ homes need urgent upgrades

Wellington Green, Larne.  INLT 15-676-CON
Wellington Green, Larne. INLT 15-676-CON

Frustrated tenants are calling on the Housing Executive to carry out urgent upgrades to properties in Larne’s Wellington Green area.

Residents - fed-up with living in “sub-standard” housing conditions in the estate - feel their homes are in dire need of major improvements.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that the Housing Executive has invested £18m on its properties in the Larne area over the past two decades, including capital improvement schemes in estates such as Craigyhill, Antiville and Ferris Park.

But residents were shocked to learn that no money has been spent on improvement schemes in Wellington Green.

Jonathan Brown, a tenant in the estate for the past four years, feels he and his neighbours are the victims of discrimination.

“All we want is fair treatment”, he added. “For years we have had to sit back while other people in the town get new kitchens, new windows, new bathrooms, and we get neglected.”

He added: “Tenants in Wellington Green fork out £71 rent each week for a three bedroom house, which is more than tenants in Antiville, Ferris Park and Sallagh Park.

“While work has been carried out to bring properties in the likes of Ferris Park up to a modern standard over the years, we have been left living in primitive conditions.

“The wiring in these houses is obsolete. And while tenants in other estates are sitting with oil-fired boilers and gas central heating, many residents here are still using coal fires.

“The only reason we have double glazed windows in Wellington Green is because that was paid for by FG Wilson, and that was well over 10 years ago.”

The FOI response also revealed that NIHE has spent £240,000 on repairs to properties in Wellington Green since 1995.

Jonathan said: “I have had a leak in my house for the past three-and-a-half years. The Housing Executive has spent £2,400 trying to fix it, and it is still not fixed.

“All they are doing is papering over the cracks, but these properties need some serious work done to bring them up to standard.”

He added that many residents are “at their wits end” and some have taken it upon themselves to carry out their own improvements to the properties.

He told the Times: “One woman paid to install a new kitchen because the one she had was dilapidated and the Housing Executive refused to replace it.

“And she was told that if there is a problem with this new kitchen, the Executive would not help to fix it because they didn’t put it in.”

“The people of Wellington Green are entitled to the same treatment as tenants in other parts of Larne.

“The way we are being ignored is morally wrong, its ethically wrong and something needs to be done.”

A spokeswoman for the Housing Executive told the Times that houses at Wellington Green had not been the subject of improvement schemes as they are currently on the stock transfer list.

She added: “The Housing Executive identified properties across Northern Ireland which required capital investment, Wellington Green is part of this.

“These were subsequently included in the Minister for Social Development’s programme for possible transfer, subject to consultation with tenants, to a housing association. This programme is currently under discussion and an update will be available shortly.”

NIHE also revealed that properties in Wellington Green were part of an external maintenance scheme in 2006, which included 170 properties across the Larne area representing an investment of £367,892.

“In addition, seven properties in the estate have had a new heating system installed where the existing system has failed, an investment of £31,500,” the spokeswoman concluded.