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SDLP commits to shared housing

Colum Eastwood

The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) is resolved to combat the segregation of communities in Northern Ireland by establishing a shared housing task force to promote greater diversity in housing.

Build A Better Future also pledges to focus on making NI’s road and rail network fit for purpose.

The Assembly election will take place on 5 May 2016.



The SDLP’s manifesto discusses the physical separation of communities in Northern Ireland, citing an ambition to end the perceived “ ‘them and us mentality’ around areas and housing”.

It plans to legislate to impose a statutory duty on social housing providers to promote and develop shared housing, to make sure that the development of shared communities is “a material factor” in the location of all new public services.

It would establish a shared housing task force to consider means of achieving greater diversity in the location and mix of housing in the private owner-occupied sector.

The SDLP vows to further tackle segregation through “shared future and new build housing schemes” and shared neighbourhood strategies in existing developments.

With a view to addressing urgent issue of social housing in Northern Ireland, the SDLP suggests that provision needs to be doubled to meet the needs of communities, and also serve to provide a significant boost to the country’s construction industry.

It calls for a cross-departmental strategy to be developed to identify available land in areas of high housing need to allow housing associations to build homes. The party would also promote uptake of the ‘Help to Buy’ ISA, and would press existing housing finance providers in NI to offer terms to prospective buyers that are “as favourable as those available to first-time buyers in other parts of the UK”.



The SDLP undertakes to work with the Irish Government to develop all-island plans for areas including planning, infrastructure, and energy that would be jointly commissioned and funded to remedy the “years of neglect for the North-South institutions” and maximise the economic potential of the island.

The party would call for a comprehensive review of all public buildings, city centres and tourist destinations to make sure that they are disability-friendly and expand the availability of accessibility on NI’s public transport systems. It also guarantees a proactive approach to meeting access needs through new planning guidelines.



To counter a road network that is “no longer fit for purpose”, the SDLP proposes a number of upgrades to key connecting roads, with priority given to the A5 and A6. It commits to agreeing a roads strategy for the next 20 years.

The party would place the Narrow Water Bridge project at the forefront of the Executive’s infrastructural agenda as a means to developing a stronger North-South economic partnership and increase tourism.

The manifesto cites commitments to continuing the development of a modern railway system across Northern Ireland and Ireland, and to developing strategic public transport hubs in key towns.

The SDLP cites the redevelopment of greenways and disused railway lines as a “unique opportunity for community-based infrastructural development”, and would explore plans for new cycling and walking greenways.



The SDLP calls for one energy infrastructure system across the island and would seek to “remove barriers to effective, modern energy infrastructure”.

It would also carry on supporting existing commitments to renewable energy through “existing and new technologies”, continue its opposition to fracking, and champion the introduction of a Climate Change Bill for Northern Ireland.

Build A Better Future can be read in full here.

The DUP has committed to delivering 8,000 social and affordable housing units by 2020 and establishing funds aimed at tackling energy efficiency, renewables, telecommunications networks and urban regeneration in Northern Ireland. More information can be found here.

The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) has pledged to introduce greater targets on turnaround times for planning applications considered ‘economically significant’ in its election manifesto. More on this can be read here.

Sinn Féin commits to spending £6 billion to improve infrastructure and vows to build 10,000 new homes in its manifesto. Full details can be found here.