‘Housing imbalance must be addressed’

Cllr Phillip Brett.
Cllr Phillip Brett.
Share this article

DUP politicians have accused the Housing Executive of failing to meet social housing need in Glengormley for the past five years.

Party representatives met with senior Housing Executive officials at Stormont last week to discuss the lack of new-build schemes in the area in recent years, and what they perceive to be “an imbalance” in social housing provision to the detriment of “unionist areas.”

The DUP delegation, which included Nigel Dodds MP, Nelson McCausland MLA, Paula Bradley MLA and Cllr Phillip Brett, voiced concerns about the growing demand for social housing in areas such as Glenvarna, Queens Park and Harmin. And they urged the Executive to progress new-build schemes to meet housing need.

Cllr Brett, who submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Housing Executive last month about social housing issues in Glengormley, claimed that “no social housing properties have been built in the Glengormley area in the last five years.”

He said that demand for social housing in Queens Park, Glenvarna and Harmin is at “an all time high”, and accused the Executive of “failing to meet the social housing need in the area for five years in a row.”

“These three areas are ranked amongst the highest in Newtownabbey in terms of unmet housing need,” he told the Times. “Official Housing Executive figures for this year show that they will fail to meet the social housing need in all three of these areas, with over 100 houses needed to meet the high level of need from young families, singles and older people.

“This situation is totally unacceptable and is at odds with other areas in Newtownabbey, such an Bawnmore and Longlands where the Executive will meet 402 per cent of the social housing need through the Felden site.

“The situation in Glengormley is totally unacceptable and would lead many to feel an imbalance exists when it comes to unionist areas of Newtownabbey.”

Responding to Cllr Brett’s concerns, an NIHE spokesperson stressed that the Executive has worked with housing associations over recent years to complete new-build projects in several areas of the borough, including Longlands, Bawnmore, Rathcoole, Rushpark, Ballyduff and Ballyclare.

“Since 2007/08, 332 units have been completed across the Newtownabbey borough. Currently, there are 127 units on site and there is a further 139 in the social housing development programme for the period 2014/15 - 2016/17,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Housing Executive has confirmed that it is still considering Glengormley Police Station as a potential site for a new social housing development.

During last week’s meeting, the DUP politicians requested that the Executive withdraw its interest in the former barracks, which closed in June 2012 and is now being disposed of by the PSNI.

A bitter row erupted last month between local DUP representatives and Sinn Fein over the future use of the property.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly called for the Antrim Road site to be used for social housing, while Cllr Brett and his party colleagues argued that such a move wouldn’t help meet identified social housing need in the town.

A spokesperson for the Housing Executive confirmed that a request was made at last Monday’s meeting for it to withdraw its interest in the police station site.

“In the DSD/Newtownabbey Borough Council Masterplan (published in March 2011), the Glengormley PSNI Station was identified as having potential for residential development - ‘comprising mixed social and private housing, possible on a shared basis’.

“The Housing Executive has registered its interest in the PSNI site at Glengormley and is currently considering its potential to meet housing need in Glengormley and a final decision has not yet been taken,” she said.

Newtownabbey Borough Council, which is also considering expressing a formal interest in the Glenwell Road site, has asked for a valuation of the property.