MAJOR refurbishment work planned before empty properties in Pulrose are re-let could be delayed after Douglas councillors voiced concerns about the project.
When the so-called Inner Ring area of Pulrose was redeveloped, 76 of the old houses with downstairs bathrooms were left in the Outer Ring, 15 of which are empty,
The council’s housing committee had planned major work converting them from three-bedroom houses with downstairs bathrooms to two-bedroom houses with upstairs bathrooms, but the plan failed to get approval of the full council.
The committee chairman Carol Malarkey said she was disappointed the scheme would now encounter further delays.
‘My staff and officers have worked their backsides off on this and I think people need to look at the bigger picture,’ she said.
‘These houses are structurally sound from the outside and from December work is being done to fit doors and windows.
But she said the design - with the bathroom downstairs adjacent to the kitchen was unsatisfactory.
The proposal by the housing committee said waiting list figures showed demand for two-bedroom properties and the 15 empty houses should form the first part of the scheme allowing them to be relet.
Mrs Malarkey said residents in the Outer Ring had been given the option to move to the new Inner Ring development and 15 households had taken up the offer.
Council leader David Christian pointed out the original plan was to rebuild the whole estate but funding was not available to demolish the final houses in the Outer Ring.
‘Here we are proposing to to do away with 76 three bedroom houses when we have poeple onin flats with children who will be wanting three bedroom houses. And many of the people in those houses have already found funds to improve their own living conditions.’ He said it was a costly proposal despite the uncertainty over the future of social housing.
‘I think the residents of upper Pulrose have been quite badly treated.’
Councillor Bill Malarkey thought it was better not to spend money on the houses but instead focus on demolishing and rebuilding in the future.
‘We’ve spent so much money. These houses were not designed for today’s living and it is wrong to throw money after them.’
After councillors voted against the proposals, Mrs Malarkey agreed to write to tenants offering them the option to remain in their houses and opt out of the conversion scheme. She said they had given tenants the option to transfer from the Outer Ring to the Inner because it was not fair for tenants to put up with the work being done.
Councillor Christian said it was important to spend minimally, relet the 15 houses and demolish in the future.