Dungannon leads new housing boom in spite of ghost estates
BY ANTHONY QUINN
HOUSING construction has been ramped up in the Dungannon District to the highest levels seen since 2007 when the last housing bubble burst.
Surprising new figures released in the Northern Ireland Housing Bulletin reveal that twice as many new homes were started by private developers in Dungannon last year than in Belfast.
The heady boom days of 2007 might be over, but a total of 463 new homes were constructed in the Dungannon area last year, the second highest in Northern Ireland.
Only Fermanagh with 584 homes had a higher number of new homes being built. By comparison, Belfast had only 196 houses started by private developers.
The picture of increased construction work is reinforced by separate figures released by the Planning Office this week which show that last year the South Tyrone district had the highest number of new planning applications in the North.
However, the statistics are in stark comparison to the high number of empty or unfinished buildings which litter the district.
The number of empty or unsold properties dotting the district currently stands at 1,837.
According to the latest housing bulletin, the dramatic increase in construction activity has continued into the first three months of 2012, when there were 133 houses started in the local district, once again one of the highest totals in Northern Ireland.
The figures mark an actual return to the building levels seen during the boom when there were 128 buildings started in the third quarter of 2007.
Private developers have led the recovery, with the sector accounting for most of the increase in new builds.
The construction of 61 new houses in the first three months of the year by housing associations has also given the local construction industry a much needed boost.
The figures are reassuring for the local economy in these strained financial times, as the more new homes being built the more new construction jobs are created.
In spite of the slump in the housing market over the past four years and the rise in empty properties, there has been an increasing shortage of affordable housing in the Dungannon area.
Dungannon’s homeless list has increased sharply since the beginning of the economic downturn at a time when more and more properties are lying empty or unsold.
According to latest figures, almost 1000 households are desperately seeking a home in the Dungannon area.
The current waiting list for a house in the Dungannon area stands at 938, with 563 households deemed to be in housing stress.
The number of homeless Dungannon people now stands at 322, a marked increase from 264 on the pervious year.
The homeless figure has risen by 60 percent since 2006, the height of the property boom.
Sinn Féin MLA Bronwyn McGahan while welcoming the news that 463 new homes were constructed in the private sector, has called on the Minister Nelson McCausland to start a programme of building social housing.
Ms McGahan said: “The news that 463 new homes were built last year in the private sector is good news for both the industry and those who can afford a new home but the reality is that the housing list in the Dungannon area is at crisis level.
“I would be concerned given the economic downturn, high unemployment coupled with a hesitancy on behalf of the banks to lend money that many of these homes will not be purchased leaving estates half finished or derelict.
“There is still over 1000 people on the waiting list and only 99 new social homes planned for the foreseeable future so it is important that the Minister addresses this deficit as soon as possible and looks at constructing a large social housing project in the area.
“Not only will this begin to address the housing crisis but with social clauses now enshrined in law would give a huge boost to the local construction industry.”
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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