Seymour Hill housing delay over concerns about asbestos dumping

Site of the former Dunmurry High School.
Site of the former Dunmurry High School.

Concern has been voiced over the illegal dumping of suspected ‘asbestos’ tiles which has caused a three-week delay on a new housing programme at Seymour Hill.

Connswater Homes Ltd, who are planning to build 98 homes at the old Dunmurry High School site, had to halt construction work while an investigation was completed on a number of tiles dumped at the site.

Already, there are 700 people looking for homes in Seymour Hill with 350 of them placed on a high priority list.

Lagan Valley MLA Jonathan Craig called the illegal dumpers, ‘thoughtless’.

“As there are so many people looking to live in Seymour Hill any new available homes to reduce this, is a bonus,” said Mr Craig. “There are 350 people currently on a high priority list waiting to be housed in Seymour Hill alone and have been for a very long time.

“It is they who have to suffer and it is they who will now have to wait further because of these thoughtless people who think that it is right to illegally dump tiles just anywhere.”

Mr Craig described the dumping as “disgraceful”,

“Not only is this an illegal act, it is also holding proceedings back,” Mr Craig said. “The contractor was supposed to be on site already but Connswater then had to bring in the healthy and safety executive to investigate these tiles.

“This person or persons has then caused a two to three week delay. Unfortunately, for all those people who are waiting for houses, the building programme has had stop until the investigations are complete.”

Mr Craig urged anyone wanting to dump goods to do so by going through the right channels.

“Obviously, anyone looking to get rid of these tiles did not want to pay the cost of properly dumping them,” he said,

“Unfortunately, all too often some people will take short cuts. They know that they cannot take them to an official dump as the officials will only then report them.

“Asbestos is a highly dangerous substance. Any powder from asbestos or dust which gets into your lungs can cause terminal disease so any suspected asbestos at all, has to be taken seriously.”

A spokesperson for Connswater Homes Ltd said, “Connswater Homes’ priority is the health and safety of workers on site and local residents; any asbestos found on site will be disposed of promptly and according to asbestos management regulations. At this stage we do not foresee any impact on delivery of the scheme.”

Dunmurry High School closed in 2012. At the time Education Minister John O’Dowd said it had suffered from declining enrolments in recent years and it was in the best interests of the pupils to close the school.

The recommended minimum number of pupils in a secondary school is 500, but there were only 110 pupils attending Dunmurry High at the time of its closure.

The school had been under threat of closure for some years despite staff and parents campaigning to keep it open.

Connswater Homes Ltd was formed in 1976 providing homes at affordable prices. Their first new build scheme took place in 1983.