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Ministers Vow to Aid Owners of Victoria Square Apartments

Andrew Muir, Minister for Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs (Credits: Alliance Party of Northern Ireland)

Three Stormont ministers, including Gordon Lyons, Minister of Communities, Caoimhe Archibald, Minister of Finance, and Andrew Muir, Minister for Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs, convened to address the plight of residents who had to evacuate their Belfast apartments due to a structural defect.

The Victoria Square apartments’ residents faced significant challenges after a defect was discovered in a structural column, leading to their evacuation in 2019. Despite the evacuation, residents bear financial burdens, such as rates for uninhabitable properties.

Minister of Communities, Gordon Lyons (Credits: Northern Ireland Executive)

Last week, Belfast High Court dismissed a legal attempt for compensation, citing the claim’s deviation from existing legislation, which requires claims to be made within six years of a property’s construction.

The case’s dismissal prompted calls for legislative reform to extend the statutory time limit to 30 years, mirroring changes implemented in England and Wales two years prior.

Ulster Garden Villages charity, owning a substantial portion of the apartments alongside individual property owners, continues grappling with the aftermath of the structural defect.

In response to mounting concerns, the Stormont ministers pledged collaborative efforts to promptly address the residents’ plight. They affirmed their commitment to crafting legislation targeting defective buildings, acknowledging the issues’ complexity.

Finance Minister Caoimhe Archibald (Credits: ITVX)

The ministers committed to facilitating reviews of rates liabilities, seeking to alleviate financial burdens on affected residents. This commitment underscores the government’s determination to support and assist residents during this challenging period.

Minister Archibald held discussions with Land and Property Services to address residents’ rates charges on the uninhabitable apartments, demonstrating ongoing efforts to mitigate financial hardships faced by affected individuals.

In their joint statement, the ministers emphasized their united commitment to prioritizing residents’ welfare and vowed to pursue legislative and administrative measures to alleviate their burdens.

Their collaborative approach underscores a concerted effort to provide tangible support and assistance to affected residents amidst their distressing circumstances.

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