New housing scheme targets six areas

Published Monday, 28 October 2013
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Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland has named the six areas which have been chosen for a special regeneration scheme.

New housing scheme targets six areas
A derelict area of the Divis/Albert Street area is included in the new pilot. (© Michael Cooper)

The communities in north and west Belfast, and Ballymena, will undergo "concerted social, economic and physical interventions" from agencies in an effort to "reverse decline".

The selected areas are: Belfast's Lower Oldpark/Hillview, Divis/Albert Street, Tiger's Bay/Mountcollyer, Shankill/Brown Square, Andersonstown and Doury Road in Ballymena.

Mr McCausland said the pilot project is part of his 'Facing the Future' housing strategy.

Speaking ahead of a visit to some of the pilot areas, Minister McCausland explained: "While much has been done to support disadvantaged communities some initiatives have not really worked in the way that they should have.

"There are still areas blighted by dereliction and decay, with empty houses that are boarded up and land that lies derelict and undeveloped. These problems drag a community down, becoming magnets for anti-social behaviour and dumping.

In the past there was a tendency to simply bulldoze the empty properties, clear the site and walk away. But a bulldozer and some grass seed is simply not good enough

Social Development Nelson McCausland

Mr McCausland continued: "I want to see a more radical and strategic approach. An approach that truly engages with local people so what have become forgotten communities, can once again become thriving and successful.

"This has been done elsewhere and this pilot programme will allow us to try out a range of initiatives to see what works best and what could work in other places too.

"These six pilot areas meet the criteria for selection as detailed in the Housing Strategy. All are already designated areas of deprivation but, critically, have good potential for recovery with available land or properties that can be refurbished."

Many people will be incredulous that the North West has once again been overlooked by this latest initiative despite the pressing need for improved housing, infrastructure and employment in that area.

Dolores Kelly, SDLP

But Alliance Social Development spokesperson Stewart Dickson MLA has expressed disappointment that none of the six housing regeneration pilot areas include any shared housing.

"OFMDFM set a target to establish ten shared neighbourhood projects in their shared future strategy 'Together: Building a United Community', so it is regrettable that they have not sought to use this housing regeneration programme to meet their own target," the east Antrim MLA commented.

"This strategy committed the Minister to identify the locations of these ten shared neighbourhoods within three months, yet five months on, not one location has been identified.

"Questions must be asked of the Minister for Social Development's commitment to shared housing, especially after the plans for the regeneration of the Girdwood Barracks site in North Belfast were described by him as shared but were in actual fact just a further segregation of housing in Northern Ireland."

SDLP Deputy Leader Dolores Kelly criticised Mr McCausland for failing to set out how areas were selected.

"There was no effective equality impact assessment conducted and that is simply not good enough," the party's social development spokesperson said.

"There continues to be significant challenges in terms of housing right across this region with many areas desperately in need of regeneration. This is made all the more frustrating when we see that there is still no movement around developing the site at Girdwood for example.

"If additional funding has become available then perhaps it would be better put into the general neighbourhood renewal pot. It is essential that whatever way the Minister decides to allocate funding for housing regeneration is properly tested."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
14 Comments
Ballysillan in Belfast wrote (273 days ago):
We in Ballysillan have now been overlooked 3 times. We have sub standard windows that haven't been replaced in 20 years. We were promised 3 times that we would get pvc but the Housing Executive stated there was no money. We were promised new radiators as the ones we have fail to do very much. No money! Maybe Nelson would like to explain then why other areas are getting this money before us. Surely it would have been better to do the areas that were promised first before starting new ones!!!!
Sam1690 in Ballysillan wrote (274 days ago):
@Ogers in N.abbey you clearly either have a strange definition of "totally redeveloped" or you simply don't know what you're talking about. If you take a short trip to theUnionist Side of Loyalist Ardoyne you will see that it is in a state of semi-completion. Houses which were inhabited pulled down, now replaced with waste ground. There is a third option, you are possibly making your statement with a warped political agenda, or is that the same as option 2?
Confused in NI in Belfast wrote (275 days ago):
McCausland states the 6 areas chosen were the most disadvantaged areas in the whole of NI. Funny that 2 are in his own constituency. I wonder if Gregory Campbell was the Minister for the DSD would areas west of the Bann been chosen. We need more transparency from our politicians to ensure that decisions made are not for political or self gain as are politicians are known to do, especially the DUP.
Michael in Belfast wrote (275 days ago):
@Peter in Belfast please explain to us all the money the NIHE has squandered. The NIHE has improved the housing stock of NI until it is the best in Europe - FACT. The NIHE hasn't had the new build function since the DSD took it off them years ago - FACT The NIHE cannot carry out major improvement schemes because the McCausland wont fight for the borrowing rules to be changed - FACT McCausland is currently being investigated by the DSD Committee over Red Sky & Turkingtons - FACT McCausland politically interfered in Girdwood - FACT The supposed £18m overspend by the NIHE is currently showing as an underspend of £x to contractors - FACT McCausland is in the process of dismantling the NIHE and having HAs run housing in NI, higher rents, no accountability, profit led - FACT Be very careful what you wish for Peter!!
Ogers in N.abbey wrote (275 days ago):
What about Ardoyne Minister. This has long been a forgotten place by Unionists. Would 3 from each community not have been a faiter approach to the new equality here. Glenbryn was totally redeveloped it is time Ardoyne people enjoyed these benefits also.
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BRIAN ROWAN
The pictures from Stormont this week showed us how politics here still walks in and out of step.
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