HC Deb 12 May 1983 vol 42 cc911-2
18. Rev. Martin Smyth

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will review housing policy in Belfast with a view to eradicating the blighting of areas as a result of failure to maintain houses in proper repair.

Mr. David Mitchell

No. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive reviewed housing policy in Belfast as recently as last year and its housing renewal strategy for the city was published in October.

Rev. Martin Smyth

Will the Minister acknowledge that, because of long-term planning by hospital services in connection with the city hospital, an area of the Donegall road is in a bad way and grants are not being made to those who want to improve their property, and thus the blight continues?

Mr. Mitchell

The particular and peculiar problems of the area to which the hon. Gentleman is referring are being urgently studied.

Mr. Soley

Is there not a strong case for an increase in expenditure on repair and renovation, both for employment and housing purposes? What response has the Minister made to the people in the Moyard and Divis estates about the possibility of demolishing a couple of blocks of those flats and doing the appropriate improvements?

Mr. Mitchell

We have already demolished two blocks in Moyard and have undertaken to demolish two blocks in Divis. As to increased expenditure on repair and improvement in Belfast, I met the full requirement asked of me by the Housing Executive for expenditure under that head in its budget for this year. It has exceeded the budget, and I have managed to find that money as well.

Rev. Ian Paisley

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the great strides that have been made in the Derry road estate in Ballymena on the Housing Executive estate? Is he further aware that houses need to be taken down and the application has been before the Housing Executive for a long time? When will action be taken in regard to this?

Mr. Mitchell

I paid a somewhat abortive visit to Ballymena last year, and the hon. Gentleman will know that I am hoping to pay another visit, which will enable me to see these and other problems in the town.