Warning over cost of 'divided society'

PLANS to build affordable homes must be accompanied by an end to divided communities and the "stereo provision" of the past.

That was the warning yesterday from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) which said society could no longer tolerate the financial burden of a separated society.

Commenting on the Budget announcement of additional funding to build more low-cost housing for the Province, RICS Northern Ireland director Ben Collins said new programmes must support efforts to create a shared society in which unnecessary duplication was eradicated.

"Northern Ireland is incurring massive expense by paying for stereo facilities to service our divided community," he said.

"In addition, division creates unnecessary waste which increases our ecological footprint."

Stressing the significant economic, social and environmental benefits to be gained from creating shared communities, he said the Executive must lead the process by encouraging and supporting shared housing schemes.

"There are historic reasons for the duplication that exists and successfully eradicating it will not come easily or quickly.

"However, as the Executive continues to focus on ensuring that Northern Ireland's scarce resources are used to best effect, it is essential that efforts to tackle costly duplication are stepped up.

"In particular, greater emphasis must be placed on the creation of shared housing schemes and on the creation of shared spaces in our communities.

"By encouraging and supporting members of our divided society to live together, we can make significant steps towards reducing the need for duplication," Mr Collins added.

RICS is the principal body representing professionals employed in the land, property and construction sectors.