Delight over expansion of Ballyhornan housing plan

Delight over expansion of Ballyhornan housing plan

11 April 2018

PLANS to increase the size of a proposed social housing scheme in Ballyhornan have been welcomed by community officials and residents.

While a scheme at Rourke’s Drive in the village was initially restricted to just four homes, a campaign is underway to have a total of 13 new homes constructed after the Housing Executive agreed that more than four homes are required in the area.

Cllr Cadogan Enright explained a survey to determine the need for new social homes at part of the former Ministry of Defence base in the village reflected a pressing need for new accommodation.

“There is huge understated demand for good housing in what is officially Ireland’s most derelict village,” he continued.

“Ark Housing has requested letters of support to the Planning Service for 13 new homes, comprising three complex needs bungalows for families who have someone with a severe disability living with them and 10 houses with a mix of two and three bedrooms.”

Cllr Enright said the former Down and Ards Planning Service accepted that the village boundaries had been misdrawn which allowed some leeway with regard to the new homes plan.

He claimed the new Planning Service, now under the control of Newry, Mourne and Down Council, was not as well informed and refused permission for a housing development at Rourke’s Drive last year.

“This is why letters of support for a new planning application are required,” he said. “In addition, myself and community representatives will be seeking to develop other sites across the village and will continue the campaign to have old mizzen huts upgraded to modern housing standards.”

Ballyhornan Development Association chairman Gerry Young said he was urging all community groups and elected representatives to get behind the new-build project which was initiated by the community 15 years or more ago.

“It has taken this long to get the Housing Executive and Housing Associations to recognise our local need,” he remarked.

“Letters of support can be sent to myself, Cllr Enright or directly to Susan Gibson at Ark Housing in advance of a formal planning application,” he explained.

Mrs Patricia Curran, chairwoman of the Ballyhornan Family Centre, said her organisation will be writing in support of the proposed social housing scheme, adding: “After so many false starts, it is essential we get this one over the line. This campaign has been ongoing for more than 15 years.”

Deirdre Dowling, of the Ballyhornan-based Mustard Seed community group, also offered her support for the scheme.

She said: “The history of this area as an RAF base has left it as a hotchpotch mix of brownfield and decayed urban and industrial sites which are zoned as so-called ‘green belt’ which halts their improvement or development.”