Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland has opened the first new social housing scheme to be built on Rathlin Island in almost two decades.
The £2 million new development of ten social housing units by Apex Housing has been provided with part funding from the Northern Ireland Executive through the Department for Social Development.
The new homes ‘Gort Beag’ are situated at Church Bay and are the first social homes to be built on the Island in 18 years.
After visiting new houses and speaking to residents, Minister McCausland said: “Rathlin is Northern Ireland’s only inhabited offshore island and is a unique asset.
“These homes will help protect the future of the Island and ensure that it remains a permanent residential community for generations to come.
“The delivery of decent, affordable, sustainable housing is a key priority for my Department. Having a warm comfortable home is one of the most fundamental rights a person can have. Apex Housing Association is to be congratulated for putting together such an impressive package, which has doubled the social housing stock on Rathlin.”
He continued: “The people of Rathlin have waited almost two decades for these new homes and I am proud that the Executive through my department have been able to play our part in safeguarding the future of the Island. These new homes have brought new and returning residents which will contribute to the regeneration of Rathlin Island.”
Michael Cecil, Chairperson of the Rathlin District Community Association said: “This is a day for gratitude – to NIHE, APEX and Donaghmore Construction who often battled difficult weather conditions through the complexities of building houses six miles off the mainland and to DSD without whose support these homes would not have been possible.
“The RDCA has been pleased to support this project and welcome it as a vital part of the Executive’s on-going commitment to ensure the sustainability of island life and the promotion of a vibrant island community.
“ We share the delight of the new tenants who can now enjoying their new homes.”
Gerry Kelly, Apex Chief Executive added: “Apex is delighted that the construction phase of this project is now complete and our new tenants are enjoying highly energy efficient and well designed homes.
“We would like to thank the Rathlin Island Development & Community Association for their assistance during the construction phase of the project. “We would also like to congratulate the contractor, Donaghmore Construction, and our design team, GM Design, for successfully delivering this challenging scheme.”
The scheme of seven three bedroom houses and three two bedroom houses cost £2 million, including land acquisition, construction costs and associated on-costs.