Executive planning to spend £5m upgrading properties

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The Housing Executive has revealed that it is planning to spend almost £5million upgrading properties in the borough over the next year.

The planned investment is highlighted in the NIHE’s district plan for 2014/15, which was presented to local councillors at their monthly meeting on Monday, August 4.

The report, presented by Housing Executive Director of Finance, Clark Bailie and Regional Manager Frank O’Connor, detailed planned works to maintain and improve the more than 4,000 Housing Executive properties in the local area.

“We have a strong agenda for Newtownabbey. During 2014/15, we will support the delivery of new social housing as well as investing £4.95million upgrading and maintaining tenants’ homes, supporting people to live independently, increasing the energy efficiency of homes and providing grant aid in the private sector,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Maintaining our stock is a priority for the Housing Executive and this year we will be spending £3.16million on planned and response maintenance to Housing Executive homes. This will include the installation of double glazing in 358 homes, new heating in 155 homes and smoke alarms in 599 homes.”

DUP Councillor Phillip Brett highlighted the lack of new-build social housing in the Glengormley area and urged the Executive to take steps to ensure that the new development at the former Felden Training Centre site near Bawnmore will be “a neutral site”.

Mr O’Connor, who confirmed that six schemes to provide 161 new homes are currently “on site” across the region, gave an assurance that the Executive will be working to ensure “a diverse waiting list” when the properties are being allocated. However, Cllr Brett said that action should be taken now to “assure members of the unionist community that this is somewhere that they could live.”

In response to a question from Cllr Pamela Barr regarding the delayed external cyclical maintenance scheme in Old Mossley, Mr O’Connor said that the work was postponed due to “procurement issues” but stressed that it is scheduled to go ahead next summer.

Meanwhile, the Executive has revealed that the local housing waiting list showed a decrease from 1,072 applicants in housing stress in March 31, 2013, to 1,019 at the end of March this year.

However, the demand for social housing is increasing across Northern Ireland, with the number of people deemed to be in housing stress now exceeding 20,000.