Dodds announces £4 million housing scheme

The Minister for Social Development Nigel Dodds has unveiled a £4 million housing development which will provide 40 new homes for the people of the New Lodge area in north Belfast.

The new development on Coulter’s Garage site, which is part of a seven-year £133 million strategy to improve housing conditions in north Belfast, was announced by Minister Dodds on Tuesday December 11.

Stressing the importance of the scheme the Minister said: “The acquisition of the former Coulter’s garage is an important part of the £133 million North Belfast Housing Strategy. There is an urgent need for more social housing in the area but available building sites are at a premium. This site will enable some 40 houses to be built at a cost of £4 million and this will ease some of the pressure.

“This announcement is a further step in the implementation of the seven year North Belfast Housing Strategy. The strategy has to be seen as a package designed to tackle social and economic deprivation in North Belfast. It is neither a Protestant nor a Catholic strategy. Rather it is one which will help everyone and make it a better place in which to live and work.”

According to the department, this year over £24 million will be spent on new housing and improvements as part of the North Belfast Housing Strategy. Overall the strategy involves increasing housing supply, making better use of existing housing, improving Housing Executive and private housing accommodation and promoting regeneration and social inclusion through partnership.

The £133 million seven year North Belfast Housing Strategy was launched last year by the Housing Executive. The main elements are:

  • Investing £15m to acquire land

  • Building 1,750 new homes for renting

  • Investing £13m in private sector grants to reduce unfitness

  • Spending £28 million on improving existing Housing Executive accommodation

Sinn Féin north Belfast assembly member Gerry Kelly has welcomed the announcement. However he added: “There are 1,500 people on the housing waiting lists in north Belfast. 75 per cent of them are Catholics. The real test for the North Belfast Housing Strategy is the number of people coming off those waiting lists.”(AMcE)

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