Of the new homes being built at a development in Belfast, 80% will be dedicated to social rent, with 20% yet to be decided. Housing Industry Leaders highlights how the 139 homes will help ease the housing crisis in Belfast and add to the over-delivery in Northern Ireland.
The subsidiary of Benmore Group, Johncorp, is the developer that got the approval for the building site, where 52 houses and 87 flats will be built. 20% of the development has not been ringfenced for private or social rents, with decisions likely as the project escalates.
With approval coming in late April 2023, the development is located on an industrial site just north of the Westwood Shopping Centre.
Belfast City Council pressed ahead with the approval of the plans despite recommendations from planning officers suggesting otherwise. This was due to the nature of the site not being ‘compatible’ with residential development.
Belfast Council press ahead despite planning objections
Further objections included noise levels from businesses. The report concluded that: “The development has the potential to adversely impact existing businesses should it be approved.”
The council disregarded this, stating the need for homes outweighed the concerns from the planning report. While this was a controversial move, decisions like this have helped Northern Ireland to over-deliver on housing targets over the last 12 months.
Through the report, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive agreed with Belfast City Council that there is a growing need for affordable housing in the area. Focussing on regenerating the area, plans have also included a children’s play park, car parking and public open space.
Works to start asap as land is vacant
With most of the former buildings already demolished and a lot of the land currently vacant, works are expected to start soon, and project delivery is expected to reach the target timeframe.
The approval of 80% of the stock to be for social housing exceeds the local development plan set by the same council that a minimum of 20% of all new homes to be for affordable housing.
Exceeding the benchmark set by the Council, in which developers previously had no quota, sends a strong message for other councils across Northern Ireland and, indeed, the rest of the UK to follow.
This framework which lasts 15 years, aims to support: “Social and economic needs in the city” and has been in development with Stormont for more than five years.”
This follows the council gaining planning powers from the government in April 2015. There have been wider calls for other authorities to have the same powers, but the central government have taken a more cautious approach.