Rathlin gets housing boost

SOCIAL Development Minister Nelson McCausland MLA on Monday officially started construction of ten new social homes on Rathlin Island.

The new homes are situated at Church Bay and are the first social homes to be built on the Island in 18 years.

The 10 new build houses will more than double the social housing stock on the Island and will provide high quality permanent homes for families on the housing waiting list.

These new homes will also assist families who have left the Island to return and re-establish their roots on the Island.

The new homes are being constructed by Apex Housing Association who have enhanced the building fabric of the homes and greatly increased air tightness, in tandem with the proposed Mechanical Ventilation & Heat Recovery technology, in recognition of the exposed island location.

The thermal comfort of the homes will be designed to Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, which will make the homes around 44% more energy efficient than the current Building Regulation standards, and more sustainable in the longer term.

Speaking at the launch of site works, the Minister said: “I am delighted to see the construction of these new homes get underway. The design and delivery of high quality energy efficient social housing will protect the homes from the worst of the Atlantic elements and will in turn help protect the tenants.

“Rathlin is Northern Ireland’s only inhabited offshore Island and is therefore 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. I am pleased to play my part in safeguarding the future of the Island. These new homes will bring new and returning residents which will contribute to the regeneration of Rathlin going forward.”

Gerry Kelly, Apex Chief Executive, added: “Apex is very pleased that we have been able to assist the Rathlin Development and Community Association in their efforts to ensure the provision of good quality housing on the island to meet the needs of the current population, while at the same time holding additional land in reserve to meet future housing need which is a vital factor in the sustainability of the resident community.”

Noel McCurdy, Chair of the Rathlin Development & Community Association, said: “This new housing programme is a tremendous support for the sustainability of the Rathlin community. Affordable housing is very limited here and this vital scheme will provide opportunity for young islanders and new Rathlin families to remain in the community and be a part of its future. We are delighted that the Department for Social Development and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive are able to support the community in this practical way.”