Local representatives turned out in force to welcome new occupants of a social housing scheme that had once been fervently opposed by that same community.
Last Thursday, July 1, representatives from Ulidia Residents’ Association (URA) joined ‘Hollywood stars’ and Social Development Minister Alex Attwood to officially open the 42 social housing apartments on the site of the former Curzon cinema on the Ormeau Road.
URA chair Marie Guinness told the Community Telegraph: “We were never against social housing — it is needed. We were just concerned that we had been left out on this and had not been consulted on such a development in our community.
“We also didn’t know if local people were to get the opportunity to avail of these new premises. It was important to us that this scheme was fully integrated.”
Last year Clanmil Housing purchased 42 units for social housing within the 61 unit development on the Ormeau Road. The apartments have been allocated to people from the social housing waiting list.
The tenants living at The Curzon have signed a ‘Shared Future’ charter as part of their tenancy agreement, giving a commitment to live harmoniously alongside their neighbours regardless of their religion or race.
Marie Guinness welcomed the charter and added: “We are glad to see Clanmil Housing has lived up to its word and despite us not being involved initially, they have met with us on a number of occasions and I feel have been true to their word in delivering a social housing scheme that fully integrates into our community.
“We hope it continues the way it started, and we will be involved in the scheme’s five year review.”
Minister Attwood said: “I am delighted to launch this new ‘shared’ residential development at the Curzon.
“I commend all the tenants who have signed up to be part of the shared ethos of the area thus consolidating the great work that has already been delivered in the Ballynafeigh area through the Shared Neighbourhood Programme.
“The Curzon scheme goes beyond meeting housing need. It is part of a new future for housing in Northern Ireland. The people who live in these developments know they are not utopias devoid of problems, however, I firmly believe that shared housing offers a great opportunity for a more inclusive and sustainable future for our society.”
Clanmil chief executive Clare McCarty added: “There has been 100% sign up to the shared futures initiative by our tenants who all share a common goal — the desire to live together in a peaceful and secure environment, respecting their neighbours.”