New build social housing provision peaks with Apex

Under construction as part of a larger government scheme to boost the provision of social housing in Northern Ireland, are five general needs housing developments – all reported to be making good progress – being carried out for Apex Housing Association.

The schemes are being carried out as part of the Social Housing Development Programme funded by the Northern Ireland Department for Social Development.

“Although impending budget cuts will result in a decrease in the number of new build social housing schemes that we can deliver, we still have a large ongoing programme of housing developments that will be progressing over the next two or three years” said My Ray Forbes of Apex Housing Group.

Amongst the schemes currently underway are developments at Blighs Lane, Londonderry; Castlewellan Road, Newcastle, County Down; Martin’s Lane and Derrybeg Villas in Newry, County Down, and a rural development known as Rural Phase 8 in Counties Londonderry and Tyrone. “All the contractors are doing well and we are generally pleased with the progress of these schemes, which we anticipate will be completed on time” said Mr Forbes.

At Blighs Lane, Londonderry, 61 two and three bedroom homes, including terraced and semi detached properties, are under construction. The homes, which are being built by Main Contractors O’Hare & McGovern, are being constructed on the former location of a factory, where enabling works were required due to the sloping nature of the site. The project, which has been on site for 12 months, will be handed over in phases, commencing November 2011.

O’Hare & McGovern are also carrying out a larger development of 130 homes at Castlewellan Road, Newcastle. The mainly two and three bedroom properties include mainly terraced and semi detached houses, together with a smaller number of apartments. This is the first social housing scheme in Newcastle for 30 years and, due to the high demand for this type of accommodation in the area, the project is a particularly welcome and significant development.

The scheme is being built on an empty site where initial operations included standard enabling works. “This development will go a long way in meeting the high demand for social housing in the Newcastle area” said Mr Forbes.

Two smaller schemes underway in Newry, County Down are at Martin’s Lane and Derrybeg Villas. Both are being carried out by Main Contractors O’Hanlon & Farrell. The Martin’s Lane development is a small scheme of six houses and the Derrybeg Villas scheme involves the construction of a single detached house to accommodate a large family. Both schemes are due for completion within the next two months.

The Rural Phase 8 scheme comprises the construction of four cottages in four seperate locations in Counties Londonderry and Tyrone. These homes, being constructed by Lowry Brothers Ltd, will replace properties which were no longer fit for purpose, and are due for completion in the next four weeks.

Apex Housing Association provides housing and support at affordable costs for those in need. The association recognises the particular requirements of families and individuals through the provision of accommodation and associated services for general needs, young people, active and frail older people and for those with mental health difficulties, learning difficulties and those requiring emergency shelter.

The association provides a range of dwelling types and support services to meet housing need identified in those local communities within which it operates.

The accommodation and services which Apex Housing Association provides includes: general needs accommodation for families and single persons; purpose built accommodation for the elderly; supported housing for people with disabilities; support services for vulnerable groups; resource centres under the management of local communities, and mixed tenure developments to provide low cost home ownership options.

During 2010/11 Apex received government approval for the delivery of approximately 700 new dwellings. This was their largest development programme ever (299 in 2009/10) and has been achieved through committed effort and team working across the Development, Finance, Property Services and Housing Departments within the group’s head office. This equates to an investment of around £70 million of which £27 million is from private borrowing.

This has been a huge achievement which had an immediate benefit for those working within the construction industry and eventually for those on the housing waiting list.

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