Michelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)
Dublin Road in Antrim earmarked for new social housing site
A site at Dublin Road in Antrim is being considered for a social housing development, councillors have been told.
The location was brought to the attention of members behind closed doors at a meeting of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council last month.
Minutes indicate that the council has had correspondence from a developer who has proposed building 33 social housing units for the over 55-year age group on land beside the council-owned Dublin Road car park. This land was previously the location of the Phillips garage.
Councillors have been told that access for this proposed new development would be via the existing entrance to the Dublin Road car park. However, the Department for Infrastructure Roads Service has indicated that improvement works would be required to the current access to meet the necessary requirements.
A report to members notes that potentially this would become a shared access used by residents of the new properties and car park users.
The report also states that to “satisfy DfI requirements the access would need to be realigned” which will involve the loss of approximately eight disabled spaces, However, it was suggested that these could be allocated elsewhere within the car park which is said to “not normally” operate at full capacity.
It was moved by Antrim DUP Councillor Paul Dunlop and seconded by Antrim SDLP Councillor Roisin Lynch to approve the improvement works.
Demand for intermediate housing aimed at low-income households in Antrim and Newtownabbey is estimated at 600 between 2020-2030.
The number of households presenting as homeless in the borough increased by 12.7% between March 2020 and March 2021 when there were 2,958 applicants on the waiting list in the council area with 2,187 in “housing stress”.
Last October, the Housing Executive reported 447 allocations over the year. Single, older people and small family households comprise 86.8% of the “housing stress” waiting list in the council area.
The organisation says that the need for small family accommodation remains “strong” and there is a “growing demand” to meet requirements for older persons.
The Housing Executive says that there is a social housing need for 48 wheelchair units. During 2020/21, it spent £850k on adaptations to these properties in the borough.
During 2020/21, the Housing Executive made 523 placements to temporary accommodation, which included: 299 hotel/B&B placements, 84 into voluntary sector hostels, 71 Housing Executive hostels, 56 placements in single let properties, six leased properties and three placements in “bespoke facilities”.
There were 1,460 tenants receiving the Housing Cost element of Universal Credit in Antrim and Newtownabbey at end of March last year.
Meanwhile, the Housing Executive’s three-year Social Housing Development Programme has 523 housing units planned in the borough.
During 2020/21, 132 homes were completed and 257 units were under construction at end of March 2021 with the sum of £29.42m invested in new-build accommodation locally.