FAMILIES PUT DOWN ANCHOR IN NEW £6.6 MILLION SHARED NEIGHBOURHOOD
19 September 2019
Clanmil Housing Group has celebrated the opening of a new £6.6 million Shared Neighbourhood in South Belfast with a welcome event for new residents and the wider community.
Clare McCarty, Group Chief Executive at Clanmil Housing, Dr Mark Brown, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Executive Office and Tracy Meharg, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities join Sophie Trainor (12) and Joshua Benson (5) to celebrate the opening of the Port Building
Yesterday's "Meet the Neighbours" event, which was part of the Community Relations Week programme, marked the official launch of The Port Building which is the last of the 10 new shared neighbourhoods planned under the Northern Ireland Executive's Together: Building A United Community (T:BUC) strategy, which aims to build a more shared society.
The homes at The Port Building have been allocated to people from the social housing waiting list and the different religious and cultural backgrounds of the residents will ensure a shared future for the people who live there. Everyone living at the scheme has signed up to a voluntary charter which sets out good neighbour principles agreed by the local community, demonstrating their commitment to living together in a mixed neighbourhood.
The new development provides 22 one-bed and 33 two-bed apartments along with secure underground parking. It is the third Shared Neighbourhood completed this year by Clanmil, who also successfully delivered shared housing schemes in Banbridge and Dundrum. These schemes come on the back of Felden, a successful shared neighbourhood in Newtownabbey delivered by Clanmil in 2016.
The total cost of the homes at the Port Building was £6.6 million, with the Department for Communities funding £3.5 million through the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Clanmil funding £3.1 million through private finance.
Clare McCarty, Group Chief Executive at Clanmil Housing was joined by Emma Little Pengelly MP and all of the MLAs for the area in welcoming the families to their new homes. She said: "Shared neighbourhoods give people the choice of living alongside people from many backgrounds and traditions and Clanmil is committed to delivering modern, quality homes that are welcoming to all.
"We see housing as an important route to a shared society and we want to build more schemes like this. We have recently started promoting a new development in Crossgar as a Housing for All shared neighbourhood.
"The people who live in these homes are helping to shape the future and Clanmil is supporting them as they settle into their beautiful new homes and new neighbourhood."
Kerry Ann Benson, who recently moved into their new home at the Port Building said: "I'm very happy in my new home and find my neighbours here at the Port Building really friendly. It's good to be living in such a diverse community and being part of a shared future scheme, and I'm excited to bring my child up here.
"We all want this to be a great place to live and we've signed up to a charter to help make that happen".
Dr Mark Browne, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Executive Office said: "I am delighted to attend the opening of this tenth shared housing development which is taking place during Good Relations Week. This meets the target set in the Executive's T:BUC strategy and marks an important milestone in the development of shared neighbourhoods. The Executive Office will continue to work with the Department for Communities, NIHE and housing associations to build on this achievement as we strive to build a shared society".
Tracy Meharg, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities added: "Targeting segregation, reducing housing stress and increasing the level of housing supply across Northern Ireland are key objectives for the Department for Communities. Delivering social housing, particularly shared housing schemes such as the Port Building, are an essential step in achieving these objectives. It was a pleasure to be part of the event to welcome the tenants to their new homes.
"The official opening of the Port Building also represents a milestone as the last of the original 10 planned shared neighbourhoods under T:BUC to be delivered. It is a testament to all those involved that this target has been met and I want to thank all the housing associations, tenants and communities for their commitment to this important and challenging work. This programme has been a catalyst for the development of further shared housing schemes, which demonstrates the commitment of my Department and housing more generally to contributing to a shared future."
Clanmil has been working with local schools in South Belfast over the past number of years to promote an understanding of what living in a shared neighbourhood means. This work has included a cross-community arts programme and a dance production with the theme of sharing for three primary schools - Forge Integrated, Rosetta Primary and Holy Rosary Primary.