12 June 2018
A spokesperson for Radius Housing said:
Radius annually performs Fire Risk Assessments in its multi occupancy buildings. In April 2018 a detailed invasive survey was carried out on the residential elements of the Russell Court buildings given its complex and unusual history.
The initial findings of this survey have raised serious concerns regarding the long-term occupation of Block B and its capacity to meet modern fire safety requirements. We currently have 60 people living in the block.
Given these concerns Radius has taken the decision to permanently vacate Block B on a managed basis over the next four weeks. Today we have notified all tenants that this is the case.
Temporary accommodation will be available for all who require it while they are waiting to be permanently re-housed under the Housing Selection Scheme administered by the NIHE.
Having taken expert advice we have put in place a number of enhanced safety measures whilst this re-accommodation process is underway. This includes Fire Marshals who are now present on-site 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. We continue to work with NIFRS throughout this process.
Unlike Block B, Block A was extensively refurbished in 2011 and does not present the same concerns.
Working with the NIHE, we have put in place a dedicated team to provide advice for those affected by this move. This includes housing staff, NIHE staff, and who together will provide advice on temporary accommodation, permanent accommodation, welfare payments and other issues.
A dedicated phone-line and email address for those affected is also now in place. Radius Housing will provide compensation and other additional support to those affected.
John McLean, CEO of Radius Housing said: “We understand that this news will be distressing for our residents some of whom have lived here for many years. We will do all we can now and in the future to support this re-accommodation process. ”
For further information, please contact:
Carl Whyte, MW Advocate
T: 02890 267072 M: 07841970678 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Note to Editors:
Radius Housing was formed in 2017 following the merger of Helm (formerly BIH) and Fold Housing.
The Russell Court Building was constructed as a hotel in the early 1970’s. Blocks A and B were constructed over 2 phases. The site was acquired by Belfast Improved Homes (BIH) in 1985. Following acquisition Block A was converted to medical accommodation completed in July 1986 and Block B was converted into 56 social housing apartments in December 1986.
In 2010 when the lease expired Block A was extensively refurbished to 25 social housing apartments.
The Russell Court complex consists of residential and office accommodation.