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Northern Ireland on target for highest number of new-builds

By Noel McAdam

Housing Minister Margaret Ritchie is on course to hit the highest number of new-build homes in over 10 years.

Despite the recession and construction fall-off in the private sector, her Social Development Department is on target for a total of 1,750 homes.

“We will not have the final figures until the beginning of next month, but if we do that will be the highest number built in over a decade,” a spokesman said.

In another innovative move, Ms Ritchie has also secured £30m via the European Investment Bank whose director-general for lending, Tom Hackett, is due to attend the conference.

Ms Ritchie said: “The serious financial pressures facing public sector housing are well documented. That is why myself and my department are working hard to find innovative ways to deliver the New Housing Agenda. Apart from the greatest number of new homes in over a decade, we are also on track for bringing more homes back into use.

“We have secured record funding from Europe and I have introduced a range of new initiatives to make our scarce resources go farther than ever before. We have acquired ex-military housing and brought it on-stream at minimal cost to the public purse and supported the Co-Ownership Scheme to attract private finance, helping more people onto the first rung of the housing ladder.”

The former military site is Girdwood in North Belfast, where DSS wants to build 100 homes in 2011/12 and 100 in 2012/13, subject to a go-ahead from the Housing Executive and planning approval.

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