With over 43,000 people in Northern Ireland sitting on the housing waiting list, work must be done now on all available and unused sites to ease the dire need for more homes.
The Housing Executive has revealed it owns more than 300 acres of unused land, while in Belfast’s Shankill Road area, 82 undeveloped, vacant or derelict sites — in public or private ownership — have been identified.
Community group Build has long been calling for this land to be developed to help improve the west Belfast area but nothing has been done.
Billy Drummond of Build rightly points out that these areas — unless they are redeveloped — attract anti-social behaviour.
Many children and young people see derelict and dilapidated sites as playgrounds, which could potentially lead to tragic consequences.
Calls to improve these areas as well as develop unused land into modern and affordable housing must be met or waiting lists — and Northern Ireland’s homelessness figures — will only continue to grow.
A lack of housing certainly isn’t the only infrastructure issue that continues to rear its head time and time again.
Painfully slow movement on two of Northern Ireland’s roads busiest roads has resulted in fatal outcomes.
Three young friends from Co Tyrone — Nathan Corrigan, Peter Finnegan and Peter (Petey) McNamee — were laid to rest over the weekend after they were killed in a horrific crash on the A5 near Ballygawley last week.
It was announced last year that the A5 Western Transport Corridor scheme between Aughnacloy and Derry would be subject to further consultation before it can be progressed.
Heartbroken families have continuously called for the A5 to be upgraded after losing their loved ones on the road.
Fr Michael O’Dwyer called for the authorities to prioritise the A5 upgrade during Mr Corrigan’s funeral yesterday, saying the community has witnessed too many deaths on just one section of the road.
Elsewhere, over 60 people have been killed on the A1 between Sprucefield’s Belfast Road roundabout and Newry’s Dublin Road roundabout since 1998. Families continue to urge the Department for Infrastructure to hurry its development scheme for the dangerous dual carriageway.
Neglected and delayed infrastructure plans are never far from the mind of those dealing with a tragic outcome as a result.
The authorities must urgently address the most pressing infrastructure projects or more lives could be lost.