Concern over housing project

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One of Lagan Valley’s newest MLAs, Jenny Palmer, has hit out at the Department of Communities over the slow progress being made on a local social housing development.

Mrs Palmer has questioned the competency of the Department over the project on the site of the old Dunmurry High School.

“In the wake of the announcement that DSD has pulled out of the Northside Development scheme, I would seriously question both the competency and the priorities of the Department and its current political leadership on the issue of social housing,” said Mrs Palmer.

“Now comes the disturbing news that the construction firm T&A Kernoghan has gone into administration with the potential loss of jobs and in the middle of a building project delivering much needed social housing on the site of the old Dunmurry High School in Seymour Hill.

“This further confirms my belief that once again there has been a failure by the DSD and the Housing Association to carry out due diligence checks that would have highlighted the risks.

“It raises more questions than answers. Who did the financial appraisal as part of the procurement and what will be the additional costs as a result of the reassignment of this contract? DSD approved the final process, so who in the Department and Housing Association got it wrong? Given the amount of public money earmarked for this project. We need answers.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Communities responded to the concerns raised by Mrs Palmer.

“The Department is content that proper due diligence was carried out on the approval of the social housing development at the former Dunmurry High School site. The appointment of contractors to complete approved social housing schemes is a matter for the Housing Association, in this case Connswater Homes.

“While it is regrettable that T & A Kernoghan has ceased operating, the Department is confident that Connswater Homes will take appropriate action to ensure the completion of the social homes at the former Dunmurry High School.”