The Department for Communities (DfC) has given the green light for the transfer of more than 50 disused former Ministry of Defence homes to a housing association.
The department is using new powers, which came into force due to the continuing absence of a devolved Assembly, to progress the long-awaited transfer, which has been stalled for almost two years without an elected minister to approve the process.
Many of the boarded up houses at Mountview Drive and Skyline Drive in Lisburn have fallen into a state of disrepair, causing serious concerns for people living in neighbouring properties.
Following pressure from political representatives and a campaign by local residents, the DfC has now confirmed that the transfer of the 59 ex-Army properties – thought to be worth around £5 million – will finally go ahead.
While the transfer of the homes hasn’t yet been finalised, the DfC has said “it is planned they will transfer shortly.”
“The passage of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Act 2018 has provided the department with an opportunity to review this matter. It is intended the department and Clanmil Housing will sign a contract to finalise the transfer of the properties and ensure that work can commence on the development of the properties for use as social housing,” a DfC spokesperson said.
Clanmil Housing Group said it is “delighted” to have received confirmation that the transfer is finally progressing.
“The properties will be refurbished to provide much needed social and affordable homes,” a spokesperson said.
“We are hopeful that DfC will complete the transfer in time for us to start refurbishment work before the end of this financial year.”
Welcoming confirmation of the transfer, Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he and his DUP colleagues, as well as residents living in the area, had “fought hard” to secure the positive outcome.
“Hopefully this can be finalised quickly and the properties renovated and made available to people on the waiting list. This housing is much needed in our local community,” he said.
SDLP MLA Pat Catney said he was “glad to finally see progress”, adding that the refurbished homes will go some way to helping those in need of social and affordable housing.