Belfast Telegraph

2,500 new homes to be built in Northern Ireland after housing association merger

By Claire Cromie

Two of Northern Ireland's housing associations have merged - and have announced plans to build 2,500 new homes across the province.

OakleeTrinity and Ulidia Housing Associations have formed what is now the largest housing association in Northern Ireland - Choice.

Its £340m plans include the building of 2,500 new social and affordable homes in the next five years, as well as the improvement of existing homes and the potential transfer of housing stock held by other providers.

The proposed building programme is expected to generate more than 700 construction jobs and support up to 500 associated jobs in the supply chain.

Choice says the project is the largest of its kind in Northern Ireland and will be funded through a combination of government grants and private finance, including from Danske Bank.

Over 10,000 new social and affordable homes have been built in Northern Ireland since 2011.

Social Development Minister, Mervyn Storey MLA, welcomed the merger and said it demonstrates confidence in the social housing sector: "I have no doubt that the competitive edge gained by the merger of the already strong performing associations of Oaklee, Trinity and Ulidia will pay further dividends for the people of Northern Ireland.

The 10,000-home landlord holds property assets of more than £700 million and has an annual turnover of over £40million.

Speaking at the launch of the association’s new brand identity at Titanic Belfast, Choice chairman Timothy Quin said: "Over the next five years, thousands of people will benefit directly from the homes and employment opportunities that we plan to create.

“As a social enterprise we want to continue to evolve, to maximise on regeneration opportunities while performing better for the communities we serve with more than just housing. That means directing our resources and commercial ambition towards the acute immediate challenges and to setting new standards of excellence within the sector.

"We believe that people should get more from housing associations and we’re ready and best-equipped to lead the way.”

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