NIHE ‘didn’t block’ Mount Zion project

Mount Zion at Edward Street.INLM1512-934gc
Mount Zion at Edward Street.INLM1512-934gc

The NIHE has denied it blocked an application to renovate existing apartments at Mount Zion House in Lurgan.

The Social Development Minister, Lord Morrow revealed that despite requests for support and funding, the NIHE has again blocked funding for the project.

Dolores Kelly.

Dolores Kelly.

Despite being lobbied by Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly, the DUP minister confirmed that the NIHE told the Shankill (Lurgan) Community Projects (SLCP) the application to renovate Mount Zion was denied.

The minister met with Mrs Kelly recently and toured the complex which had been a community hub and home to a number of vulnerable adults.

Funding was pulled several years ago and much of the building has been unused, including many of 15 apartments.

When asked at the NI Assembly about the future of the apartments, Lord Morrow said that the NIHE had rejected the application and asked officials to speak to SLCP about alternative solutions.

Mrs Kelly said: “There are 150 people in the area of north Lurgan on a waiting list. Does the Minister agree with me that it is of the utmost urgency that the Housing Executive and all others involved in this case put maximum effort into ensuring that these apartments — I think there are 18 in total, with five requiring remedial work — are put back into immediate use to alleviate the severe housing crisis in north Lurgan?”

A NIHE spokesperson said: “The Housing Executive has a track record of supporting local community-led initiatives and there is no question of ‘blocking’ of this, or any other initiative(s).

“The group applied to the Housing Executive’s Social Housing Enterprise Awards for a grant of £50,000. The first tranche of our new awards were significantly oversubscribed. It was an open competition and on the basis of strictly applied criteria the group from Lurgan was unsuccessful, as were a number of applicants.

“The Housing Executive has been in contact with the group to provide feedback on their application.

“A meeting has been scheduled to discuss the group’s proposals and to see if we can identify suitable avenue(s) open to them.”