A stalled £92 million plan to build 900 new homes in Northern Ireland has been revived, it was announced today.
Construction company Dermont hopes to create 400 building jobs over the next four years after it bought land previously owned by the ill-fated Taggart Group, which went into administration last year.
It has purchased four sites in the greater Belfast area and one in Coleraine that already have outline planning permission for 901 houses.
The newly-formed Dermont Group is a joint venture between Donegall Place Investments and the McGinnis Group. The commercial agent acting on the deal was McKibbin Commercial.
The 87-acre deal includes sites at Carryduff, Cairnshill, two in Dundonald and Coleraine.
Workers are due to be on site at Dundonald and Cairnshill at the beginning of next month with construction in Carryduff and Coleraine to follow shortly after.
Pat McCormack, co-owner of Donegall Place Investments and a director of the Dermont Group, said: "The housing and construction market is at a very low point and yet there is still demand for new homes at affordable prices with the availability of mortgages.
"This major housing project will meet both the demand for high quality homes which people can realistically afford and create much-needed jobs in an industry facing some tough challenges.
"The time has come for the Northern Ireland economy to lift itself out of the gloom and for people to realise that the sky is not going to fall in.
"We have made a major investment because we believe in Northern Ireland and its people and we believe that prices are now at a point where people will have the confidence and the ability to re-enter the market. We are buying and building for the future and we have no fears that the corner is ready to be turned."
John McGinnis, of the McGinnis Group and a fellow director of the Dermont Group, said: "This news comes at a time when job losses are all too common in the construction industry and, despite falling prices, first-time buyers are still struggling to get on the property ladder.
"A deal like this illustrates that local people and companies are the key to pulling the Northern Ireland economy out of the recession.
"We are willing to show leadership on that front but in doing so, we are making a good business decision also - the pent-up demand is there if the prices and the mortgages are right and, working with the Bank of Ireland, we know that these developments will be successful."
Taggart Group administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) said the deal was good news for creditors with the defunct firm.
Garth Calow from PWC said: "I am delighted that through this administration process we have been able to conclude a sale to the Dermont Group.
"The sites within this land bank are all in prime residential locations and in the past have been the subject of considerable interest from potential developers and investors.
"Successfully disposing of these sites in a single transaction will enable the release of value for creditors.
"With development work due to commence across these sites, this sale will also make a positive contribution to stimulating activity in the local house-building and residential property markets."