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Hagan Homes vows to build 2,000 new houses in Northern Ireland over next decade

James Hagan

The owner of one of Northern Ireland's biggest house builders has vowed to construct 2,000 new homes in a £300m investment in the next decade - without relying on bank funding.

James Hagan, the founder and chairman of Ballyclare-based Hagan Homes, said he would build around 200 homes every year for a decade, creating and sustaining hundreds of construction jobs .

And he said he had "no intention of relying on bank funding" for his project, which he announced as the company celebrates 30 years in business.

He said his plan's viability is helped by the relative affordability of sites for building firms, as well as the affordability of homes for buyers.

"We paid off the banks six years ago, and I'm not going down that road again. We can do what we want. We're cash-rich at the minute and not paying too much for sites.

"My method in the past has been to build in the middle of housing estates and rundown areas, and it always helps bring the areas up."

And he said he felt confident that there would not be another property crash in the next 10 years - after the last crash of 2007-08 put many other builders out of business.

"The world over the last 100 years has had peaks and troughs of housing and property and probably in 10 years time there will be another correction, as they call it in the City.

"But it won't be like last time as the banks have learnt a lot.

"Houses are affordable, and annual price increases of 2% or 3% or 4% a year means they stay affordable. If they go up too much people can't afford them."

Hagan Homes has around a dozen sites, in areas ranging from Derriaghy to Newcastle, as well as Belfast, Ballymoney, Coleraine and Lisburn.

"There'll be other sites in the next 10 years, and there's others we're in the process of buying. We'll be buying away continually," added Mr Hagan.

And he said Hagan Homes had avoided going bust in the crash, partly because it had stopped buying building sites in 2005 - around two years before the market for sites peaked.

"Even with ones we bought before that were much too expensive we battled our way through and paid the banks and got through it."

He said the price of sites remained less than 50% of what they had been at market peak.

Mr Hagan said he was pleased his son Jamesy - formerly his managing director - had set up his own housebuilding company. Another son Stephen is a successful actor working in London.

Belfast Telegraph