Social Development Minister Alex Attwood has launched proposals to regenerate Lower Oldpark — Northern Ireland’s most deprived ward.
The minister unveiled the housing and regeneration plans, developed with the Housing Executive in association with the local community, at a meeting at the community centre in Avoca Street.
The proposals aim to bring vacant properties back into use and use vacant sites with the potential to build up to 50 new social and |affordable houses.
The plan also makes provision for new community facilities and public realm improvements including new paving, street furniture, lighting and tree planting.
Mr Attwood said the proposals arose out of a commitment he had given last October to act on overdue regeneration plans.
“Work has started to renovate the first of the blocked up properties that are blighting the area and we have identified a number of vacant sites that can be used for new housing. Other work will |provide new community facilities and improve the physical |environment.
“This plan represents a commitment by my department to regenerate Lower Oldpark. We want to encourage people to move back into this community and will help put the infrastructure in place to rebuild the area, its appeal and quality.”
The minister thanked in particular the Lower Oldpark Community Association which has been working alongside the Housing Executive to articulate its views.
He concluded: “It is important that local people are consulted because they know better than anyone what will work best in their area. I want all to get involved and make their views known to the Housing Executive, to the Department for Social Development, to me. I plan to come back to the area in four or five weeks to hear first hand the views of the community.”
The proposals are now |available through the Housing Executive’s North Belfast District Office at 32-36 Great Victoria Street and will be delivered to every home in the area.
Jim Wright, chairman of Lower Oldpark Community Association said it was encouraging to see the minister back after his first visit in October and that they expected to see him again in a few weeks time.
“This is the first sign of a positive step taken by ministers and statutory agencies after years of neglect. We look forward to seeing immediate action to take forward our comprehensive Community Regeneration |Strategy,” he added.