Six areas in Northern Ireland selected for regeneration schemes
Six special regeneration areas in Northern Ireland have been earmarked to build stronger communities, the Social Development Minister has said.
Parts of north and west Belfast and Ballymena were chosen for pilot projects which aim to improve housing and reverse decline in the communities.
Minister Nelson McCausland said: "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.
"They blight the lives of the residents, creating despair and they are a lost opportunity.
"It is wrong to condemn people to living in such situations and I am determined to do something about it."
The minister said that in many cases 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," he said.
"It leaves communities with the heart torn out of them.
"We need a more radical approach that will deliver results.
"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."