16/06/2011

Derry Housing Association Praised

A housing scheme that has created 17 new houses has been unveiled on the site of the former Rosemount PSNI site in Londonderry, with due praise for the Apex Housing Association.

NI Housing Minister Nelson McCausland handed over keys to Rosemount Cottages' first residents during his visit to Londonderry this week to see the modest scheme of new family homes on the city's west Bank and be told that it had been completed in just 14 months.

Welcoming residents to their new homes, Minister McCausland said: "These new modern family homes have been built and designed to the latest standards that will protect tenants from the threat of fuel poverty in the years ahead."

During his first visit to the Maiden City since taking up his new portfolio DUP Minister McCausland also called in to meet residents in Rinmore on the Creggan Estate to hear of progress to improve both the quantity and quality of housing in the area.

He said that Rinmore residents recently voted overwhelmingly to the first stock transfer of its kind that will see responsibility and ownership of their homes transfer from the NI Housing Executive to a locally based Housing Association.

As part of that arrangement the Housing Association will invest up to £3.2m of its own money to improve the homes and bring them up to a modern standard.

Criticism

That's despite seven housing associations being told to stop building homes this week after the Minister's own Department of Social Development found they failed to meet certain standards despite housing associations being responsible for building and maintaining social housing.

Without reference to the ongoing debate over some of NI's Housing Associations, Minister McCausland said: "Since taking on my new portfolio, I have heard much about the scheme at Rinmore and the work put in by local people on the ground.

"That is why I was keen on my first visit to Londonderry to come here, meet residents and see for myself what has been so overwhelmingly voted for by them.

"This pilot which I fully support, has undoubted potential for other homes that also need extensive refurbishment.

"The injection of this private funding from the Housing Association has not only saved the tax payer over £3m, but has brought relief at last to residents who feared they would never see their homes refurbished," he said.

The proposal is to transfer 55 dwellings owned by the NI Housing Executive to Apex Housing Association.

It will see 38 dwellings improved at a total cost of £46,280 per unit) while 17 one bedroom bungalows are to be demolished and replaced by new social housing at a cost of £1,590,562 £93,560 per unit.

That scheme is due to commence in August 2011 with an expected completion date of September 2012.

Minister McCausland later visited the Cathedral Youth Club, before going on a brief walkabout on the Fountain estate.

The Minister also took the opportunity to visit Social Security staff at the Pensions Service, Carlisle House and Lisnagelvin Jobs and Benefits Office.

See: Social Housing 'Strong' Despite Suspensions

(GK/BMcC)

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