‘Unionists are being treated like second class citizens’

Alderman Thomas Hogg.
Alderman Thomas Hogg.
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Macedon Cllr Thomas Hogg has accused the Housing Executive of “failing miserably to address social housing inequality in Newtownabbey.”

The DUP man made the allegation following the presentation of the NIHE’s district plan for 2014/15, which includes proposals for new-build developments over the next five years, to the council last week.

Alderman Hogg, who wasn’t at last Monday’s meeting to hear the presentation of the report by senior Housing Executive officials, has launched a scathing attack on the organisation, accusing it of treating unionists like “second class citizens.”

“The Housing Executive has failed miserably to address the inequality in new-build social housing in Newtownabbey. The district plan exposes sectarian imbalance in the provision of new-build social housing and the serious neglect of unionist areas of the borough,” he claimed.

“Whilst the Executive has calculated a five-year social housing need projection based on their waiting lists for each area, this would appear to have been totally ignored when one considers the new-build housing that is programmed.

“The Housing Executive has calculated a five-year need for 85 new homes in Rathcoole, 71 in Rushpark, 10 in Rathfern and 10 in Bleach Green Avenue. In spite of these targets there are only 50 programmed for Rathcoole, 17 for Rushpark, none for Rathfern and none for Bleach Green Avenue. On the other hand, the Executive has calculated a need for 15 new homes in the Bawnmore/Old Mill area, yet over one hundred new homes are programmed. This means that the need in the Bawnmore/Old Mill area will have been met by 673 per cent. I believe that this is totally unjustified and represents a questionable use of public resources.”

He added: “Social housing developments must be provided on the basis of actual proven need alone and all areas should be considered on a fair and equitable basis. This is clearly not the case in Newtownabbey and we now find ourselves in a situation where unionists are being treated as second class citizens when it comes to the provision of new-build social housing. This is absolutely intolerable and cannot go unchallenged.”

Responding to Alderman Hogg’s comments, an NIHE spokesperson said: “Over the last five years, 332 units of social housing have been delivered across Newtownabbey and there are 161 units currently on site, which include 97 units at Felden (Mill Road). Felden is being developed as a shared housing site through the Together Building United Communities initiative. Applicants from waiting lists adjoining this site will be invited to join a new common waiting list for Felden from which tenants will be drawn and will be required to sign up to a shared neighbourhood charter.

“The housing need assessment for Newtownabbey borough identifies a need for 530 units between 2013 and 2018. There are currently 62 units programmed for the approved social housing development programme, which operates over a three-year period. The Housing Executive is working with housing associations to identify suitable sites to meet the outstanding need.”