Updated: 17 Feb 2018
We continue to assist urban and rural regeneration throughout Northern Ireland, making significant economic, community and social improvements with an investment of £6.6m during 2014/15.
Under the Urban Renewal Programme, newbuild or rehabilitation schemes were undertaken in four areas in Belfast. Compensation claims continued to be received for the Village, Fortwilliam/Queen Victoria Gardens, Parkside and Upper New Lodge URA’s.
The bulk of this expenditure was as a direct result of the fast pace of compensation claims received for Upper New Lodge URA. A Vesting Application for a number of properties in Fortwilliam Parade was made by the DSD and became operative on 13 October 2014.
In 2014/15, we allocated £415k Neighbourhood Renewal funding in 14 neighbourhoods through the Small Pockets of Deprivation Programme (SPOD) to support regeneration initiatives across Northern Ireland.
The Empty Homes Strategy and Action Plan, which was launched by the Department for Social Development in September 2013, seeks to bring empty homes across Northern Ireland towns and cities back into use and address and reduce the negative impact of blight, property deterioration, anti - social behaviour and vandalism.
To assist in this strategy, the Housing Executive developed the Empty Homes Unit (EHU) in January 2014. Steady progress has been made in meeting targets outlined in the action plan with 13 of the 16 tasks either achieved or ongoing.
With the Reform of Local Government and the emergence of the 11 new councils, 2015/16 is an appropriate time to review our rural approach and our vision and goals for rural housing services.
In terms of increasing the supply of rural social housing stock, of the 2,013 new build scheme starts (accompanied by existing satisfactory and off-the shelf purchases) during 2014/15, some 119 social housing units were delivered across our rural villages and small settlements. When added to the figures from the previous year, this highlights that a total of 224 units have been delivered during the two year plan period helping to house those in need and to sustain rural communities.
Partnership working with other government agencies to support and matchfund the Rural Development Programme continued throughout 2013-15 and we are pleased to report that in total, the Housing Executive funded 53 rural community projects with a total of almost £460,000 helping to regenerate rural communities and promote community involvement.
Following the conclusion and review of the 2013-15 Rural Action Plan, we will focus in 2015/16 on developing our new ‘Rural Strategy’ building on the achievements of previous action plans and embracing the wider reforms of social housing, local government and the emergence of community planning.