Rural communities across province set for boost from social housing scheme

Social housing developer the Rural Housing Association is set to create 287 homes in a £13m investment supported by Danske Bank.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 6:00 am
Stephen Fisher, CEO at Rural Housing Association, left, with Chris Martin, head of social housing at Danske Bank
Stephen Fisher, CEO at Rural Housing Association, left, with Chris Martin, head of social housing at Danske Bank

Of the £13m investment, £4.5m has already been drawn down in the last year to buy properties and develop three sites that are due to go onsite next year.

The remainder of the investment will be used to purchase further sites for development, including a 10 unit dwelling on Rathlin Island, over the following four years.

“Our focus is on delivering affordable homes to rural areas with a population of less than 5,000,” said Stephen Fisher, CEO at Rural Housing Association.

“Acquiring the land to develop is the most challenging part of our work.

“There is a big demand from the Housing Executive for family housing, with the gap between supply and demand still a major concern. These new homes will be a mix of two and three bed properties.

“We have banked with Danske Bank since 2011 and they’ve backed us on a number of schemes. This latest round of investment will ensure we are able to deliver affordable housing in rural areas for the next five years.”

Chris Martin, head of social housing at Danske Bank, commented: “This investment reflects Danske Bank’s continued presence and increased activity in the social housing market.

“Over the past three years we have supported a number of significant projects coming to market both at home and in England.

“While demand still outstrips supply, the housing sector is steadily recovering after a number of difficult years, and we welcome the opportunity to support social housing developers with working capital finance.”

Rural Housing Association was established in 1992 to provide a supply of readily available and affordable accommodation.

The Association works throughout Northern Ireland, tackling social housing shortages in disadvantaged rural areas. The company is located in Omagh and currently employs 16 staff.