DOWN Councillor Cadogan Enright has welcomed the news that another bureaucratic log-jam preventing the Ballyhornan Task Force from applying for funding for social housing has been removed.
Cllr Enright said “Last September our task force in Ballyhornan won planning permission for twelve social housing units after a long struggle. There has been no social housing built in this area for 30 years, and it was badly required. However we have been held up for 13 months in applying for funding with our partner ACR Housing, as another housing association APEX had historically expressed an interest in the area to the department, and had ‘the rights’ to develop in the area.”
“Two months ago at the Councils formal meeting with the Northern Irish Housing Executive, I raised this issue and asked the NIHE to ‘bang heads together’ so that our development can proceed. I was delighted when NIHE’s Aidan Brannigan reported back this week that APEX Housing had withdrawn, allowing our project to apply for finance for the 2013/2014 financial year for an initial phase of 4 units.”
Cllr Enright pointed out “This project has been a long drawn out process, and local people were frustrated in their attempts to gain social housing by a number of obstacles that we had to overcome. Firstly the NIHE had no ‘latent demand’ figures showing that there was a demand for social housing in Ballyhornan, as people do not seek listing in areas than have no social housing, and there had been none since 1982. With help from the Rural Residents Forum, we were able to run a ‘latent demand test’ in 2008 to give us the figures to back our Planning Permission proposal.”
Secondly, large parts of the centre of Ballyhornan have been erroneously earmarked as “greenbelt farming land” preventing development. Thus it was a long hard struggle by the task force to persuade the planning authorities that the ruined ex-RAF buildings were actually a brown-field site and that the boundaries of Ballyhornan had been incorrectly drawn. Said Cllr Enright.
“This project has a lot of support locally. If we can proceed with the 4 first phase units it will create facts on the ground. Thus when the next latent demand survey takes place in the coming year, I feel confident that the demand will be demonstrated for the remaining 8 units.” Concluded Cllr Cadogan Enright.