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Ballykelly Army homes: Couple’s joy as they swap their tent for a £30k house

Over 300 first-time homeowners are looking forward to moving into their new homes after a development of former Army properties was snapped up for rock-bottom prices in under eight hours.

Some 317 houses in Ballykelly’s Shackleton Barracks are under new ownership after selling out on Saturday — with the first 100 going at an astonishing rate of one per minute.

Now renamed Loughview, the development of two, three and four bedroomed houses came on the market priced between £30,000—£65,000. Every last one went to a first time buyer, many of whom had camped along the roadside for up to eight days before the homes went on sale at 9am.

The bright sunshine was no match for the huge smiles on the faces of those who got the houses they wanted such as Limavady couple Stephen McLean and his fiancée Hannah Potter.

Despite eyes bleary and bloodshot from lack of sleep, they were ecstatic at becoming homeowners.

They were the first to pitch their tent in a queue that over a week grew until it was almost a mile long.

“I may look wrecked, but inside I am overjoyed,’ said Stephen when they had secured the two bedroom house they wanted for an incredible £30,000.

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Steven and Laura Clarke, parents of 13-month-old daughter Lotus, bought a three bedroomed house for £46,00o. Their beaming smiles told it all.

“Never mind that this will be our very own home, we will be saving around £200 a month on rent,” Mr Clarke said.

Heather Brown, from Greysteel, and her fiancé Mark Roden from Birkenhead secured the three bedroom house they had been queuing for. Heather explained how they wiled away many long hours camping along the roadside.

“I have decorated and renovated this house in my head all week. I have picked paint, furnishings, knocked down walls, planted the garden and put up curtains over and over again,” she said.

The houses were bought from the MoD by Dublin-based Merrion Property Development.

Patrick Morwood, from Merrion, was on site on Saturday. He said the reaction of locals to the sale was overwhelming.

He explained: “We made a conscious decision to make the houses affordable to first time buyers because we knew there was a niche in the market for this kind of housing but we never for a second thought we would see a sight like this, especially in the middle of a property slump.”

The Army base closed down in March 2008 after over 60 years in use by soldiers and their families.

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