Belfast Telegraph

We need to build for the future

By Michael McDonnell

Changing the way we deliver social housing in the future will play a significant role in building thriving communities across Northern Ireland.

The challenges are significant – ongoing recession, low pay and increased energy prices impact heavily on those on low incomes.

Any future economic improvement can act as a double-edged sword, as rising inflation almost always sees a rise in interest rates, both of which have a disproportionate and adverse impact on low-income families.

With nearly £200m of public and private funds pledged to the development of social housing, it is important that the full potential of this investment is realised by building strong communities and not just sustainable homes.

The era of housing associations focusing purely on bricks and mortar has long disappeared. Our role in the future will be to build quality homes and accommodation alongside meaningful community infrastructure.

As well as delivering services with partner organisations, this means building mixed-use developments, which will see social housing sitting along side private homes. It also means acting as a catalyst for the physical construction of community facilities.

Providing standalone housing does not deliver sustainable communities – only by building support services can we ensure communities are able to prosper.

Since the early-1970s, Northern Ireland has had a proud tradition of world-class social housing. Housing associations, working in partnership with local community representatives, statutory agencies and voluntary groups, will continue to focus on high standards of delivery.

Success ultimately relies on the close working relationship we have with partners and stakeholders, grounded in the needs of tenants and neighbourhoods.

This type of partnership working means we can deliver added value and community-owned solutions, be they for vulnerable adults, older people, carers, or the community as a whole.

This is the model for social housing that will enable the neighbourhood regeneration that Northern Ireland so badly needs.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph