First sod cut for new rural homes development on Rathlin Island
In a landmark day for Rathlin Island, the first sod has been turned on 10 new homes which are being built by Rural Housing Association.
The event to mark this momentous occasion was attended by Infrastructure Minister, John O’Dowd, who was joined by pupils from St Mary’s primary school on the island.
The ten homes are the first new build social housing on the island in almost a decade, and will help meet the demand for housing on the island as the population of 150 continues to grow. The project has been underway for a number of years, since Rural Housing identified a site and a Rural Need Test was undertaken by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, which supported the need to develop new homes on the island.
The new homes will consist of four 1-bedroom apartments, four 2-bedroom apartments, two or which will be wheelchair accessible, and two 3-bedroom houses, and have been deigned in line with Rural Housing Association’s design guide, which aims to develop homes which are sympathetic to the landscape and are in character with the local area. The homes will also be developed to modern energy efficiency standards.
Rural Housing Association was formed in 1992, and manages more than 520 homes, dispersed right across Northern Ireland. Their aim is provide accommodation for rural people in rural areas, with a view to helping maintain and regenerate rural communities.
The scheme has been designed by Studio Rogers and will be developed by Lowry Construction The new build is part funded through the Department for Communities (HAG) and Dankse Bank. It is hoped that the development will be completed by winter 2023.
Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd commented:
“It is great to be on Rathlin today for this milestone event which will deliver much needed affordable social housing on the island.
“This flagship project of 10 new modern, sustainable and energy efficient homes will provide a welcome opportunity for more people and families to settle on this unique island.
“My Department is responsible for the Executive’s Rathlin Island Policy and Action Plan and this investment for the future of the island community will help ensure that Rathlin can continue to thrive and grow from within and move a step closer to fulfilling its ambition of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.”
Rural Housing Chief Executive Steven Fisher added “Central to the gaol of Rural Housing Association is identity rural communities that are growing or have capacity to grow, and ensuring that they have social housing to meet the need. With the Rathlin Island project, we did not shy away from the challenges that it brought, and we have been determined that this community should have social housing to hep it to grow and flourish.
“Constructing on an island will not be an easy task logistically, but like with any new build project, our team and our partner organisations have the determination and skills to meet and overcome these challenges. These new houses will be in one of the most unique and stunning rural communities in Northern Ireland, and we are looking forward to the day that they are homes to 10 families.”