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Magazine of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations 77 19

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perspective on social housing

Issue 7 - autumn | winter 07

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posh - autumn | winter 07

NIFHA’s Mission Statement The Federation’s purpose is to enhance the ability of housing associations to improve the social well-being of people in Northern Ireland.



• NI Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust • The Minister’s First 100 days in office

I am grateful to POSH’s Editorial Team for the opportunity of addressing some issues which I think are of importance at this time.

• Procurement Agenda • Spotlight on Supporting People

3 4-5 6-8

• Wheelchair user housing • Research on barriers to Social Inclusion • Blowing Our Own Trumpet

9 10-11 12 13 14 15

• Environmental Focus • Regeneration

• Housing Associations - FAQs

• NIFHA’s Housing Association Members

Contact details NIFHA 38 Hill Street Belfast BT1 2LB T: 028 9023 0446 F: 028 9023 8057 E: W: representing and promoting housing associations in Northern Ireland © NIFHA 2007 Please note: the views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of NIFHA. POSH is printed on 150gsm Revive paper which is recyclable. When you are finished with it please ensure it is sent for recycling. Thank you.

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Firstly, the current introduction of a procurement strategy. This has been a bone of contention for many members of the Housing Association Movement. I must confess I was reluctant to embrace the idea and still have some reservations concerning the expectation that procurement, per se, will produce major savings. However, having heard the matter debated at a variety of meetings, I believe the process is unavoidable and that it presents positive opportunities for co-operative working which has the potential to build the capacity and skills of associations. Secondly, the revival of the Local Assembly has afforded NIFHA the opportunity to strengthen links with local political leaders. I must commend the energy and tenacity which NIFHA’s staff have invested in progressing these meetings. From those I’ve attended, I note that our local politicians are aware of some success and failures (their perceptions) of Housing Associations. While it has not been articulated I think there lingers among a significant number of politicians a fond remembrance of a “golden era”

when they only had to deal with one body on social housing issues. I do not fear a drive to recreate this situation, however, I think it is imperative the movement continues to develop very positive relationships with the Housing Executive to ensure we deliver the development programme they manage. Finally, an issue which causes me some concern is the make up of voluntary Management Boards. When I joined North & West’s Board in 1967 the age range of members was 25-50 with an average age about mid thirties. Today our Board would have an average age of 58-60. Although we have expanded the range of backgrounds and skill base of our committee we do not have an appropriate balance of gender and age. I think we are not atypical. If housing associations want to remain relevant I believe all of us should address such imbalances vigorously over the next 2-3 years.

Frank Dunne NIFHA Chairperson

Please note: If you would like to register your interest in becoming a Committee or Board member for a Housing Association, contact NIFHA for an application pack on 028 9023 0446 Email: or go online to and click into NIFHA Governance.

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POSH’s Front Cover Story Roseville House’s playground funded by NIHACT

The children are having fun in the newly installed playground at Roseville House, a family centre run by Ark Housing. This was made possible by a grant from the NI Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust (NIHACT). It is a stimulating and challenging play area to which the children return time and time again. The design is based on the “Playful Living” concept developed in Denmark. It has proved popular with toddlers through to early teens as all their play needs have been taken into account. NIFHA is the sole trustee of the Charitable Trust which awards grants or loans of up to £5,000 (there are occasional exceptions) to a variety of groups. Log on to NIFHA’s website at, to download and read NIHACT’s “Funding Criteria and Procedures” booklet together with the application form. Alternatively, email or telephone 028 9023 0446 to request the pack.

After 100 days in office With her first 100 days in office now behind her, the Minister for Social Development, Margaret Ritchie MLA, has told POSH magazine that she is determined to strenuously continue her efforts to tackle her top priority - affordable housing. “The Inter-Departmental Group and Advisory Panel of Experts are already making progress and I am encouraged that the members of the Executive and Assembly are supporting me. Funding continues to be a challenge. I am on record that I require additional resources. I will be seeking the co-operation of everyone for the more creative use of resources and Housing Associations will be asked to come up with innovative solutions, given their proven ability to attract private finance.

and police sites for housing but, of course, once again funding will be an issue. As a Minister, I have visited and opened many Housing Association projects right across Northern Ireland. I have seen schemes for general needs, schemes for the elderly, people with learning difficulties and those with dementia, a foyer, a mixed tenure project, a homeless facility, a group housing scheme for travellers and so on. I have seen that there is so much more to the housing effort than the provision of bricks and mortar I congratulate you all on the standards you are providing and the support that I have seen being given to tenants.”

I remain concerned about the reported number of vacant properties. I asked the Housing Executive to produce an Empty Homes Strategy setting out options for bringing them back into use. I now have an interim report indicating the extent of the additional work required to be undertaken before it will be able to provide a full report with associated costs. As for surplus public land, I have written to my Ministerial colleagues and to Local Authorities asking them to identify any suitable surplus sites within their ownership. My own Department and the Housing Executive are also reviewing their land holdings. I am also actively exploring the potential of former military

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Pictured with the Minister in Fermanagh at the opening of Drumkeen Court, Ederney L-R: Mena Hegarty, Ederney Community Development Trust; Rosemary McQuaid, Scheme Co-ordinator; Alex Baird, Chairman, Fermanagh District Council; Liam Deane, Chairman, Oaklee Housing Association.

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The Procurement Agenda An Introduction According to the Oxford English dictionary, the word “procure” means “to obtain, especially by care or effort”. This definition provides a useful starting point for considering the best way to procure the homes planned in the government’s Social Housing Development Programme. Most construction in Northern Ireland is wholly or partly funded by the taxpayer. However, the public sector has not made full use of its market dominance to demand better value from the building industry. The main reason has been that the many organisations in the public and grant-aided sectors have approached the market in a fragmented way. They have awarded numerous, relatively small contracts, which offered firms no continuity of work beyond the particular contract(s) they won. The traditional system encouraged the successful firm to maximise its profit in the short-term by building to the minimum standard permitted by the contract and exploiting contractual opportunities to claim extra payments. Not surprisingly, disputes often arose between the parties!

Because these “bundles” of work are likely to be worth more than £3.6 million, they will have to be advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union and comply with the detailed rules in the European Procurement Directive. When training has been undertaken and appropriate controls are in place, the government expects associations to start using “strategic partnering” as a means of improving quality and/or reducing the cost of construction. A typical strategic partnering contract will last five years and include the possibility of a twoyear extension. Consequently, the contractor: • can negotiate substantial “bulk purchase” discounts from its suppliers and sub-contractors • is guaranteed a reasonable profit and a share of any savings achieved by more efficient working • can afford to invest in recruiting apprentices and undertaking other staff training • will not be awarded the contract extension unless price and quality remain good.

The UK government now expects public and grantaided bodies to assemble their publicly-funded and grant-aided building work into much larger “bundles” with a view to:

The successful firm should therefore have a strong incentive to provide excellent service at a keen price over a long time. The housing association movement in Northern Ireland has an excellent record of pursuing efficiency improvements and is approaching the government’s procurement agenda in the same spirit. The Federation is therefore urging its members to co-operate in consortia to present the construction industry with bigger work packages.

• reducing the number of tendering exercises and the associated administrative costs • attracting tenders not only from regional contractors but also from national and international construction firms.

This challenging change will place considerable administrative demands on associations at a time when they must also focus on delivering badly-needed affordable housing. The Federation will continue to support their efforts on both fronts.

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Collaborative Working – an example A number of housing associations, reacting to the Department for Social Development’s initiative to improve efficiency in public housing procurement, have joined together as the Northern Ireland Joint Ventures Group. Recently, the group hosted a seminar to receive a presentation from Dr Neil Jarrett on behalf of the Collaborative Working Centre (CWC). CWC is a consultancy created by the University of Warwick providing support to the public sector as a member of “Constructing Excellence” path finding initiatives. For example: The Rethinking Construction Report, Partnering, Integrated Supply Chains, and Incentivisation. Dr Jarrett advised how best a procurement group may develop a strategy embracing both new build construction and maintenance projects providing the supplementary knowledge and skills to achieve real cost reduction from housing projects. This may be achieved by developing the principles of Rethinking Construction including integrated Design and Construction teams, establishing incentivisation within the contracting environment and in developing processes for continuous value improvement supported by a thorough understanding of costs. Collaborative working represents a challenge to traditional methods of business and requires major changes in perception, culture, attitude and practice including the development of new commercial relationships, in order to generate long term improvement. The New Engineering & Construction Contract (NEC 3) will give effect to these matters. A procurement strategy and plan is being prepared, including training intervention, followed by an agreed programme to facilitate and promote the necessary changes in funding, in culture and in practice. Consultants will enter into Framework Agreements: Commissioning (“or call offs”) will be subject to the terms of a bespoke Professional Services Contract. New Build Development Works and Property Services Works will also be let under NEC 3 Conditions. A Training Programme in NEC 3 will be delivered upon Conditions of Professional Engagement and Conditions of Construction Contract for a number of associations. In essence, collaborative working will be founded upon a strategic and time bound plan, implemented by staged and structured evolution, with all services procured in compliance with European Procurement Legislation and administered in practice by NEC 3 Conditions of Engagement and Contract. If you would like to discuss any aspect of the above, or receive further information, please contact one of the following associations: Ark Housing, Ballynafeigh Housing Association, Belfast Community Housing Association, Filor Housing Association or Grove Housing Association. Contact details may be found on the inside back cover of POSH.

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For further information on procurement for Housing Associations, please contact NIFHA’s Chief Executive, Chris Williamson. Tel: 028 9023 0446 or Email:

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Spotlight on Supporting People Supporting People is a UK wide programme and is the government’s strategy for helping vulnerable people to live independently in the community. The NI Housing Executive (NIHE) is responsible for implementing it in Northern Ireland. Housing associations, independent support providers and the NIHE make up a range of providers delivering services on the ground. Very often though housing associations, or the NIHE, work in partnership with specialist housing support providers. The former provide the accommodation element whilst the latter provide the housing support service because they have the specialised knowledge and experience suited to their particular client group’s needs. From their inception many housing associations have been involved in working with other voluntary organisations to provide specialist support services. This feature looks at examples of how funding from NIHE’s Supporting People is making a real difference in our community. Khara-minn A personal perspective on what “supporting people” means for one individual who is benefiting from a service… “Quite often tenants are asked, “What is Khara-minn?”. Tenants, having originated in diverse backgrounds, will give equally diverse answers. The answers will depend on the illness of the tenant, the medication he or she is on, or their individual perspective as to what is taking place on a daily basis around them. These individual answers will be analysed by the questioner and their own perception or spin added to the original answer. Khara-minn is a building which houses fourteen tenants with different illnesses. An environment is provided by the staff which ensures a calm, safe, happy atmosphere while offering group sessions or activities which will encourage tenants to be confident about moving back into the community.

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As a tenant, I can say Kharaminn offers me all of the above and a chance to democratically improve on services by taking part in the construction and working of various groups. Groups at Khara-minn can include anything from rolereversal to art, all designed to help us understand our illnesses and to interact with others in an atmosphere of trust and respect. Certain values are in place that have been decided by the community (this includes staff and tenants) called “The Therapeutic Constitution”. These suggested guidelines are basically common sense, but they give tenants a sense of belonging and a sense of being a stake-holder in a Community with a level playing field. In order to achieve this balancing act everyone discusses group activities, and their levels of participation and usefulness that will encourage change to the betterment of all. No matter what your socio-economic or political

background, you will agree that Khara-minn is the place to be if you have been traumatised by conflict or other incidents where trust is in short supply.

“I can say that living in such a democratic place of trust and respect will only replace my faith in human nature and help me rehabilitate back into society with less cynical attitudes when that time comes.” Colin a tenant of Khara-Minn.

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Partnering to help the young

Khara-Minn is a jointly managed scheme by Threshold and Ark Housing which is financed through Supporting People. It is a purpose built scheme which opened in 2004. The unit caters for those with severe mental illness consequently, moving on is a slow process. Ideally tenants stay no more than two years but some may take a little longer.


Anderson House’s accommodation

A prime example of partnership development for supporting people is Anderson House, Dungannon, Co Tyrone. It is a scheme for young people leaving care which draws on the expertise of Dungannon & District Housing Association, Belfast Central Mission and the local Trust. It is funded by the Housing Executive’s Supporting People Regime. Built at a cost of £460,000, the 5 bed space scheme provides support to vulnerable people aged between 16 and 21 years for a period of up to 2 years. It gives them the opportunity to improve their quality of life by providing a stable environment which supports individual needs thus enabling greater independence.

However, the focus is on working towards independence. To date 20 people have benefited from Khara-minn’s service.

Supporting the over 60s Elizabeth Stewart is a supervisor working in FOLD’s Warden Scheme in the Glenvarna Court and Glenvara Drive areas of Newtownabbey. Covering 36 households she provides support to residents over 60 who may have an illness, a disability, become isolated or are vulnerable. Elizabeth has many years of experience in tenant support and calls regularly with each resident to assists them with a diverse range of matters. A complementary emergency contact service is provided by FOLD Telecare which provides an alarm in the person’s home so they can contact FOLD staff 24 hours a day should an emergency arise. This service has proved invaluable in ensuring peace of mind and in assisting the wellbeing of residents.

Community at Khara-minn

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The Glenvarna Wardens Scheme is funded and regulated by the NI Housing Executive (NIHE) through Supporting People. It is successfully managed by a partnership between local FOLD and NIHE staff in Newtownabbey.

Elizabeth, with one of FOLD’s tenants, Mrs Jessie Parmley

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Roseville House Between April 04 and April 05 Ark Housing invested £300k of its own funds to fully refurbish and kit out the original 20 units of Roseville House, Belfast. Since then a further £500k investment (March 06Jan 07) was made to build an additional four units, two of which are for disabled persons’ use.

This support is not withdrawn as soon as the family leaves. The team will remain in contact with the family for a few months after they are settled in a permanent residence to give advice and support. This will tail off over time but loosening of ties is client led rather than a defined period.

Families at Roseville House are there on a shortterm basis. They have been accepted by the Housing Executive as homeless for a variety of reasons and are generally referred to Ark Housing through the Executive’s Homeless Advice Centre in Belfast.

The emphasis is very much on supporting people to move from homelessness to permanent residency. It is a partnership with the Housing Executive which grows stronger with time. In working closely with the multi-needs homeless team, Ark Housing is helping them to achieve the homeless strategy.

Two teams of support workers each look after 12 families. A Support Worker is assigned and works closely with each family to provide much needed support while they live there. This can be help with benefits, getting training, accessing childcare and developing empowerment.

For further information on Supporting People please contact Malcolm Christy, NIFHA’s Supporting People Officer. Tel: 028 9023 0446 Email:

Wheelchair user accommodation at Roseville House

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Wheelchair User Housing - still some way to go!

At Home in the Community “It’s as if there is a glass wall separating people with a disability from the rest of society. We have to become better at finding ways of ensuring they are not just IN the community but that they are part of it.” Prof Roy McConkey (UU) Triangle Housing Association and the University of Ulster joined forces for a ground-breaking study highlighting the social exclusion of people with a learning disability in Northern Ireland. The report details the extent of social isolation experienced by tenants in various forms of supported accommodation provided by a range of agencies throughout Northern Ireland. Triangle HA understood people with a learning disability are among the most marginalised in our society but realised there had been relatively little research into the factors that hinder social inclusion and how they might be removed. Through this research Triangle aimed to find out how this situation could be changed. The project also investigated various ways of overcoming the barriers to inclusion so that people could become more socially integrated in their local communities. Findings showed the support of staff was crucial as well as the location and style of housing provided. A “toolkit” (CD ROM / DVD), will be available from November 2007. It aims to provide information and knowledge for staff around social inclusion, developing attitudes and approaches towards social inclusion and looking at practical ways to make social inclusion a realistic and attainable goal. For further information and a copy of the report contact Triangle HA on 028 2766 6880. Photo: At the launch - Back Row: Heather Cousins DSD, Chris Alexander and Kathy Mackenzie Triangle HA, Paul Clark UTV and Alan Shannon DSD. Front Row: Edna Dunbar Triangle HA and Suzanne Collins University of Ulster.

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Earlier this year the NI Housing Executive (NIHE) Board approved a paper focusing on the ways wheelchair user housing can be provided. There are approximately 1,400 purpose-built wheelchair user dwellings in Northern Ireland. Housing associations own and manage 75% of them but it’s still less than 5% of their stock. Best practice studies showed many authorities in England have design plans allocating 10% of their stock as wheelchair user housing. In Northern Ireland, it has been argued that a combination of increased house and land prices, as well as a reduced supply of land, has made it more difficult to provide low density housing. Housing associations face increasing development costs for social housing due in part to specific requirements set out in the Department for Social Development’s (DSD) Housing Association Guide. For example, compliance with “Lifetime Homes” costs £15,500 per dwelling. There has been an ongoing debate that planned social housing provision, based on the assessment of housing need, does not recognise the diversity among wheelchair users. The current system seems ubable to take account of changing circumstances – a person may be able bodied today but may require wheelchair user housing at some point in the future. The NIHE’s Wheelchair User Housing Study (Oct 06) identified an increasing need for wheelchair user housing and raised questions about acceptable existing space standards. The issue of space standards for wheelchair user housing was not fully addressed in this paper and this causes concern among housing associations that forcing people with disabilities to live in apartments could be regarded as an infringement on their human rights. NIFHA has written to DSD’s Director of Housing, Ms Heather Cousins, asking for this matter to be addressed urgently. On behalf of our members we are calling for a less prescriptive approach in the provision of wheelchair user housing, so that we can be more flexible in terms of development and plan for the future housing needs of our society. Donall Henderson - Housing Policy & Research Manager, NIFHA

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Blowing Our Own Trumpet Portadown & Newry benefit from £5.5+ million At a cost of £1.6million, South Ulster Housing Association (SUHA) is to provide 15 new units of accommodation for people with special needs. The scheme will be jointly managed by Praxis and located at Thomas Street, Portadown. In addition, the association is rehabilitating a derelict property in Hanover Street to create 16 units at a cost of over £1.5million. The Association intends to use monies received from house sales which are currently in the Disposal Proceeds Fund to finance it.

The Minister nails it - Margaret Ritchie MLA, erects a sign at the Hanover St, project with Sam Preston, Chief Executive and Arnold Hatch, Committee Member SUHA.

Over the past few years South Ulster’s reach has expanded beyond Portadown, to areas including Newry, Keady, Moy, Armagh and Banbridge. Indeed, in Newry 29 houses and various commercial buildings in the Sinclair Street and Canal Street areas are to be knocked down to make way for 27 new homes to be built by them at a cost of £2.6 million.

DDHA Online Dungannon and District Housing Association have launched a new website. Log on to and you’ll find useful information for tenants and the public in general. Do check it out!

Pictured (back row) Declan McCormack and Joe McLeigh of Hugh J O’ Boyle (front row) Geraldine Rice Clanmil Housing’s Chair, Minister Ritchie, and Clare McCarty, Clanmil Housing’s Chief Executive.

184 new homes for the Ormeau Road The Minister for Social Development’s first public engagement when she took office was to visit Clanmil Housing’s £27 million development in Belfast. DDHA’s Home Page

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The land mark site at the former North Rugby and Cricket Ground on the Ormeau Road in Belfast will, when completed, provide an additional 184 much needed new homes for the area.

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£1.5 MILLION ‘NEW BUILD’ FOR HOLYWELL HOSPITAL BIH Housing Association recently commenced a £1.5 million ‘new build’ on a site purchased from the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, adjacent to Holywell Hospital. The Pines will provide the first step for those with a severe and enduring mental illness to rehabilitate into the community. The purpose-built living accommodation for 10 adults is a partnership project between BIH and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust. Currently, tenants who suffer from mental illness live in two houses on the Holywell site - but the accommodation is outdated and unsuitable. This single-storey scheme will provide one-person, one-bedroom en suite accommodation for ten people as well as two en suite staff bedrooms. It will offer ‘supported’ accommodation, so residents will have access to support services, 24 hours a day. There will also be communal facilities including a lounge, hobbies room, laundry room and staff meeting rooms.

Antrim Close and Antrim Mews Launch Located on the Antrim Road, at the site of the former Milk Marketing Board, Oaklee Housing Association invested over £5 million to create 67 units of general needs housing. These were handed over in August 07. Construction of the scheme was awarded to Oaklee under the North Belfast Strategy. After much negotiation, they proposed a design involving the demolition of part of the old complex and enhancing some of the aesthetic details of the block of flats originally planned; thus, creating more family accommodation. An additional six houses were built at the front of the Antrim Road, for sale through ‘Oaklee Homes Ltd’ to offer mixed tenure.

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Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie MLA, pictured with resident Julie Boyle. Photo - John Harrison.

A firm foundation - Jim Stewart, Chairman, the Northern Health and Social Care Trust with Jean Fulton, Chief Executive, BIH.

Managing their success Triangle Housing Association’s commitment to continuous professional development was highlighted with the recent presentation of First Line Management Certificates to 16 members of staff. This first line management course is accredited through the Open College Network at level 3 and has been designed for the voluntary and community sector. It was then tailored specifically for Triangle staff working within the Floating Support, Supported Employment and Supported Living Services. The aim of the course was to provide the knowledge and skills required to manage effectively in a voluntary or community sector post, and to enhance personal effectiveness. Staff are now applying their skills across all the services provided by Triangle HA.

Triangle HA’s staff with their First Line Management Certificates.

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Counting on Sheep Being really serious about sustainability means there is a constant battle to balance the production of low energy buildings, with being “green” and also delivering on cost. To help deal with this Hearth developed a robust analysis of the various “green” materials and systems that can be used in the improvement of existing buildings. It has proved useful when making the difficult choices regarding the relative importance of cost and design over the long-term effects on the environment, the users and the Association. One example of this balancing act is insulation. Sheep’s Wool insulation was recently selected for use in Hearth’s Ormeau Park project, even though its fibre quilt competitors are about one third of cost, for the following reasons: • Compatibility - Its ability to “breathe” lends itself well to traditional buildings by helping to reduce condensation risks; • Greener material - The more green materials are used the more chance the demand will help to bring costs down; • Controls air quality - The wool is able to permanently absorb persistent pollutants like formaldehyde; and • Non irritant - Sheep’s wool fibres are not aggressive like some other quilt insulations, so it is healthier, particularly for allergy sufferers. Cost, however, is a major deterrent. To encourage greater use, this type of product should be supported with funding from organisations promoting sustainability. Producing low energy sustainable buildings is not just about technology, but also about making the most Sheep’s Wool of our existing insulation building stock – used by Hearth Housing and other natural existing resources. Association

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How Trinity’s scheme will look in 2009

Trinity Housing is investing £4 million to provide 30 (3-person, 2bedroom) apartments in three blocks on the Ballygowan Road in Castlereagh for older people who remain relatively fit. To complement the environment, an attractive cruciform shape was devised to allow for the low roof heights required to suit the site’s location. Through the design of the building layout and landscaping the scheme will offer residents an attractive, modern and sustainable residential development with a genuine sense of place. Begun March 07 this scheme is due to complete in 2009. For further information contact Trinity Housing on 028 9030 8140.

Bungalow Boost for Blackmountain, Belfast At a cost of £650,000, Woodvale & Shankill Housing Association recently completed eight bungalows at Ballygomartin Drive. The bungalows have been completed to Lifetime Homes standard and are the first of the Association’s schemes to achieve Eco Homes standard. Solar panels have been used on the roofs, the homes are triple insulated and a rain water collection system installed. During the summer tenants reported the solar panels were producing enough hot water for showers and baths so they have not used their main heating system. All good news for the environment! Solar gain for Woodvale & Shankill tenants

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Rising from the ashes


Abercorn Court’s site prior to regeneration

The conversion of 422 and 424 Antrim Road to create Rosemount House is an excellent example of extending the life of older properties to benefit the community. These Grade 2 B1 “listed” buildings were in a derelict state when acquired by Filor. The only original part of the building retained was the front elevation. The three storey brick façade containing doorways with fanlights above and Ionic columns either side, the second and third floor windows with simple moulding surrounds and the usual parapet wall feature - good design and perspective accentuated by its simplicity! Behind this, an ultra modern hostel was created with 20 en suite, air conditioned bedrooms, plus kitchen, food storage and food preparation areas finished to commercial hotel standards. Filor’s partner in this project is the Rosemount Committee. They have set a high benchmark in attending to the needs of the residents. They assist in matters of faith support, further education, counselling, social development and interaction as well as recreational and hobby pursuits.

Abercorn Court, Block 2 today

NEW BRICKS FOR THE OLD WALLS Habinteg Housing Association (Ulster) Ltd has been commended by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) for its £1.6 million urban regeneration project at Abercorn Court in the centre of Londonderry. The scheme comprises 11 apartments, of which three have been built to full wheelchair user specifications. Abercorn Court is particularly noteworthy for its sensitively designed façade, which carefully mirrors Habinteg’s North West offices in the adjoining Victorian townhouse. In a process of close consultation with the planning service regarding height, scale and mass of any new development at the site, the outbuildings associated with existing property were demolished and replaced by a tasteful courtyard style apartment complex.

Rosemount House – a sorry site

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Rosemount House – revitalised!

The project has successfully regenerated a semi derelict brownfield site and brought it back into constructive use, adding impetus to the area’s urban improvement works.

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Housing Associations

Frequently Asked Questions! How are Housing Associations financed? Housing associations in Northern Ireland are independent voluntary organisations which are in part funded by government with the rest coming from private finance arranged separately by housing associations. Assistance from the public purse was very limited until 1976, when the Housing (NI) Order became law. This offered subsidies to housing associations willing to undergo a rigorous registration and regulation procedure prescribed by the Department for Social Development (DSD). Until 20 April 2007 the DSD paid the Housing Association Grant (HAG). Since then the NIHE has assumed this responsibility. The proportion of grant depends on the location and design of the development but typically it represents about two-thirds of the project’s cost. The housing association then has to obtain the remaining capital by borrowing from a private institution (eg a bank) or investing its financial reserves.

What is HAG? HAG is the Housing Association Grant which makes up the largest part of the finance for a Housing Association’s Development Programme. HAG helps associations to acquire land or buildings and to build, convert or improve housing for rent or low cost home ownership. The government uses a complex system of Total Cost Indicators (TCI) and grant rates to ensure the homes developed by housing associations represent good value for public money and the rents can be afforded by people in low-paid employment.

Are HAs affected by increases in interest rates? Yes, housing associations are affected by any movement in the interest rates. The recent increases will have seen housing associations face higher repayments on the private loans they must use to part-finance their new and existing homes. This, in turn, puts upward pressure on rents.

How can I get involved? It is worth emphasising that the housing association has to repay its private loans and make financial provision for all future maintenance from its rental income. Housing associations are not borrowing entirely from the public sector and they carry the full risk of defaulting on the private loans. Consequently, with this dual source of finance, associations can develop more homes with a given amount of public expenditure than a public authority.

Housing associations welcome expressions of interest from those willing to serve voluntarily on their Board of Management. Associations encourage applications from both genders, a range of age groups, ethnic minorities and religious backgrounds. Boards need a wide skill set and varied career experience including: finance, administration, community group working, social services, health management to help underpin their work.

If you would like to contribute to the housing association movement then contact NIFHA for an information pack giving further details and an application form so you can register your expression of interest in serving voluntarily on a Board of Management. Tel: 028 9023 0446 / E: / Online at under the NIFHA Governance section.

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NIFHA’s Housing Association Members Housing Association

Contact No

Email Address


Abbeyfield UK (NI)

028 9040 2045


028 9336 0973


Ark Housing

028 9075 2310


028 9049 1569


Belfast Community

028 9046 3686


028 9032 0485


028 9074 2984


Clanmil Housing

028 9087 6000


028 9031 1156



Connswater Homes

028 9065 6155


028 9073 9868



028 9076 8029


028 9031 1156



Dungannon & District

028 8772 2121


028 9035 1131



028 9059 2110


028 9042 8314



028 3751 8522


028 9077 3330

Habinteg (Ulster)

028 9042 7211


028 9053 0121


028 9074 4055


NI Co-ownership

028 9032 7276

North & West

028 7126 3819


028 9044 1300

Open Door

028 9024 3785



028 9050 7755


028 8224 6118


028 9024 6811

South Ulster

028 3833 9795

St Matthew’s

028 9045 1070



028 2766 6880

Trinity Housing

028 9030 8140


028 9038 2288


028 9336 3558

Woodvale & Shankill

028 9074 1618


Bangor Provident Trust

028 9024 6602


Glenall Housing Co-operative

028 9031 1156



Habitat for Humanity NI

028 9024 3686

Intercomm Enterprises

028 9074 8355

The Abbeyfield Belfast Society

028 9038 1332



028 9087 1313

Ulster Provident

028 9031 1156




*These are members who provide housing but are not registered housing associations with DSD and therefore do not receive DSD funding

For full details of the accommodation and services offered by NIFHA’s members, please log onto and search the Housing Association Database

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All the expertise you need under one roof

Paul Harrison Northern Ireland 07809 493137

Introducing your dedicated Social Housing team Our team of specialists is focused on delivering

Kevin Harwood North & Midlands 07753 712916

best-value solutions for your organisation. What’s more, with relationship managers based throughout the country, we are well placed to understand and service your requirements.  Comprehensive product range including

Gary Cobb st London & South We 07753 712979

- Banking - Finance - Investment - Revenue Collection  Experienced Relationship Managers  Commercial banking heritage spanning 40 years

Simon Wright London & South East 07809 493138

Talk to your Relationship Manager today Call free on 0800 056 6686 quoting ref PS0117 Click This document is available in large print, Braille or on audio tape. Applications are subject to status and the right to decline any application is reserved. Charges may apply on calls made from mobile phones. Telephone calls are recorded for security, quality control and training purposes. Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank, a trading division of Alliance & Leicester plc. Registered Office: Carlton Park, Narborough, Leicester, LE19 0AL. Company No: 3263713. Registered in England. Alliance & Leicester plc is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Our FSA register number is 189099.

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05_POSH Issue 7_AutumnWinter 07  
05_POSH Issue 7_AutumnWinter 07 perspective on social housing 1977 20 0 7 Issue 7 - autumn | winter 07 Magazine of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing...