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SDLP back state of the art city social housing scheme

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

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NEWRY SDLP Councillors Michael Savage and Gary Stokes have written a letter of support for a planning application to develop 31 state of the art social housing apartments on the Belfast Road in the City.
They have voiced their support for the application after meeting the developers behind the scheme Palcas who informed them that they hope to deliver up to 400 'eco homes' to help meet the chronic social housing shortage across the City over the next five years.
Cllr Savage, who proposed a recent housing symposium to deal with the housing crisis in Newry and gained unanimous support for a Council motion in April to make social housing a priority, said both he and Cllr Stokes are impressed with the bespoke approach to delivering social housing that Palcas is advocating.
He said: "We need upwards of 1,000 social housing units across this City to meet unprecedented demand. The housing situation in Newry is worse than it was back in 1972.
“Social housing need in this city has changed beyond all recognition since the recession. Many hard-working and young families cannot afford a deposit for a mortgage and can't get onto the property ladder.
“They are yearning for their own home at affordable rents. We need to plan to meet that need and remove the stigma that some people associate with social housing.
“We are now back to the same place we were in the early 70s when most people's only option was to seek a 'council house. If we can get our next generation housed with affordable rents then they stay in our city and have the expendable income to spend in our local economy.
“There is a need to tackle this problem head-on with schemes that are purely social in their make-up and smaller and manageable. Both Cllr Stokes and I have met with Paul Brannigan of Palcas and we are impressed by the social-only bespoke approach he and his company are taking to try and provide solutions to our social housing problems in the City.
“From what we have seen Palcas are developing close links with housing associations well in advance of any identified potential scheme and looking at areas of high demand for social housing.
“They then work through a process of developing high quality sustainable social housing that blends in with the surrounding area and meets the nature of the demand. We hope that this lead-in work will ensure that all planning requirements can be met and applications of this nature can go through the planning process swiflty to ensure we start making a dent on our social housing waiting lists.
“The biggest demand in Newry is now for one and two bedroom homes and this is where this scheme and others planned by Palcas will help meet that demand. This approach is redefining social housing and is an approach that is welcome and long overdue."
Speaking about the Belfast Road application, Councillor Gary Stokes said: "The homes proposed offer many unique features and are state of the art, secure, disabled friendly with dedicated on site parking as well as landscaped roof gardens offering panoramic views of surrounding landscape.
“They are designed to blend into surrounding area whilst at the same time create an architecturally pleasing scheme at the gateway to Newry City.
“This is already an established social housing area with many local amenities nearby. The scheme will provide a mix of unit types designed with local working families needs in mind. Both Councillor Savage and I see the merits in this scheme and are happy to express our support for it."

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