14/12/2006

Government review on NI housing

The government has today called for ideas on how to tackle the ever-increasing coast of houses in Northern Ireland.

Sir John Semple today published his initial 'Review into Affordable Housing', which will now go into a consultation period, ending on January 26.

The review was prompted by a meeting between the government and Social Development Minister for Northern Ireland David Hanson, who called for something to be done about the housing situation.

Commenting on the review, Sir John said: “It sets out my initial assessment of the issues and I welcome the opportunity to test my analysis and seek views on the preliminary recommendations.

“Housing is the key to countering poverty and social exclusion and the inability to access decent, affordable housing impacts significantly on quality of life. Providing affordable housing is a complex problem and there are no easy answers.

“My report presents a variety of suggestions regarding planning, land, social housing, the private rented sector and extending access to home ownership. Some of my suggestions include changing the current area plan system, increasing the social housing new build programme, possibly restricting the house sales scheme, dealing with empty properties through vesting or charging rates and providing further shared ownership/equity products.”

He continued: “I will also take into account in my final report the recently published Barker Review of Land Use Planning and also important research work into the Northern Ireland Housing Market and on rents, which has just been completed or is about to be completed.”

To support the review, AdviceNI is undertaking research to explore the impact that the inability to access appropriate housing has on people’s lives and their aspirations. It will be carrying out an eConsultation from 14 December. More information can be found at www.adviceNI.net

(EF)

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