Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

TV estate Ballysally set for makeover... but will it be as successful as star Kelly-Ann's?

Neglected neighbourhood's new lease of life

Kelly-Ann Mithell
Kelly-Ann Mithell
Kelly-Ann Mithell
Kelly-Ann Mithell
Ballysally Estate in Coleraine
Ballysally Estate in Coleraine

It gained notoriety throughout Northern Ireland due to a controversial fly-on-the-wall television series.

Now the housing development which featured in The Estate is set for a facelift.

The BBC show on Ballysally regularly featured a row of derelict houses, much to the annoyance of some residents who claimed it conveyed a false impression of deprivation.

There were also complaints the popular series – which regularly drew audiences of over 250,000 viewers – had adversely affected house prices in the area.

But the estate is set for a spruce-up, with 10 eyesore properties due to be redeveloped.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said he has secured a pledge for action from Social Development Minster Nelson McCausland.

"This is good news for Ballysally to remove the dereliction and make more housing available for those in housing need which will help regenerate the area, along with other positive programmes that are undertaken within the community," said Mr Campbell.

There are currently 19 vacant properties in the Ballysally estate owned by SHAC who are managed by the Oaklee Housing Association.

According to the minister, Oaklee, in conjunction with SHAC, plans to refurbish 10 houses in the coming months.

"I am however committed to ensuring that all of these vacant properties are refurbished as a matter of priority," said Mr McCausland. "I have therefore instructed my officials to meet with Oaklee Housing Association to instruct them that all these vacant properties should be refurbished as a matter of priority."

Residents including Martin Laverty, whose battle with alcohol was featured, and teenager Kelly Ann Mitchell became household names as a result of the weekly show.

Kelly-Ann, who caught viewers' attention with her refusal to go to school, herself underwent a makeover after the show aired and was transformed into an elegant teen.

Ballysally, which has twice the national average of people on unemployment benefit, is one of the biggest housing estates in Northern Ireland with around 3,000 residents.

Filming of the documentary saw cameras go behind closed doors to follow the lives of some residents over 12 months and was broadcast last year.

At the time of screening, local businessman Gareth Godfrey, who owns Gareth's Takeaway, said he believed the "good people of Ballysally were not shown".

"I thought they didn't show the good places in Ballysally.

"They only showed the bad areas and rundown buildings. There are a lot of good people in Ballysally."

Profile

The Estate spent a year charting the lives of a number of residents of the Ballysally in Coleraine. The BBC programme, which aired last year, chose one of the biggest housing estates in Northern Ireland as the setting for its fly-on-the-wall documentary. Cameras followed the lives of a single mother-of-five, whose 15-year-old daughter Kelly-Ann wouldn't go to school, an alcoholic and his support worker, and a hard-working family with a disabled daughter.

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