Log in | Register

New social housing procedure launched in Northern Ireland

Words: Sam Waddicor

Housing minster Nelson McCausland has announced the launch of a new procurement procedure to support the delivery of social housing in Northern Ireland.

The Competitive Land, Design and Build procedure provides an alternative procurement method than the one currently used by housing associations in the province.

Currently, they have to find land, procure a design team, secure approvals and then find a building contractor to build the actual properties. Under the new approach, housing associations will be able to enter into an agreement with a developer whereby the developer would provide the complete package of land, design services, getting planning approvals and building the new homes before then handing control back to the association.

Housing minister Nelson McCausland said: “I have committed to deliver 8,000 new social and affordable homes by 2015 – after the first three years of the Programme for Government, I am on track to exceed that target. But I am not complacent. More needs to be done to increase the supply of social and affordable homes. For that reason I have launched this Competitive Land, Design and Build initiative which will allow housing associations and developers to work collaboratively to deliver additional high quality social housing in areas of need.

“I am told by housing associations that a particular challenge they face in delivering more social housing is the availability of development land. As the title suggests, this new approach is focused on bringing additional land currently owned by developers, contractors and others to the market. In addition, with most of the work being undertaken by the developer-led team, the development staff within the association are able to focus on delivering more schemes.

“The development of a scheme such as this has been a priority of mine for some time," McCausland conitnued. "I welcome the fact that it is now available. I believe that such innovative approaches are good for social housing, good for the construction industry and good for the Northern Ireland economy.”

The new approach has been successfully piloted by Fold Housing Association in East Belfast, with 41 new homes being built in the Ravenhill Road area.