AT a time when the number of houses being sold in Northern Ireland is at its highest level since the boom six years ago, calls were made at a public meeting in Magherafelt for more social housing in Mid-Ulster.
The event was organised by SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone who said there is a demand for housing “of all kinds” in his Mid-Ulster constituency.
Latest statistics from Stormont revaled last week, show that 450 people in Magherafelt are waiting on houses, while in Cookstown the figure is 400.
Patsy McGlone said: “That demand is not being met, particularly in the social housing sector.”
Mr McGlone said the real need for social housing new builds in Mid-Ulster was highlighted repeatedly at the well attended meeting.
A report by the Ulster Quarterly House Price Index revealed that during July, August and September there were 1,706 transactions - a 20 per cent jump on the previous three months.
The meeting on housing, which also looked at the impact of welfare reform in Magherafelt was attended by SDLP representatives from Cookstown and Magherafelt as well as officials from the NI Housing Executive including North Regional Planner, Ailhhe Hickey, and Principal Officer, Mairead Myles Davey.
The Co-Ownership scheme’s Operational Directors Charles O’Neill and Lynn Patterson, along with Head of Operations, Nuala Kerr, were also present, as was the Chief Executive of the NI Federation of Housing Associations, Camerson Watt.
Mr McGlone said that many in attendance were very interested in the information provided by the Co-Ownership representatives about the scheme they ran.
Cookstown Councillor Tony Quinn said: The lack of social housing new builds in the Cookstown area is a particular problem.
“The identification and development of sites in Cookstown must be a higher priority.”
Magherafelt Councillor Jim Campbell added:
“Concerns were also raised about the proposed new Housing Association build at Mullaghboy.
“In particular the need for green space and proper play areas for children to be included in the development.”