Concern over Killicomaine housing plans

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Concerns have been expressed over a plan to transfer Housing Executive properties in the Killicomaine Estate to Housing Association ownership.

It could mean an increase in rents but Cameron Watt, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations, says these will be offset by warmer homes and lower energy bills.

Four estates across the province are affected, the others are Mourneview and Grey Estate in Lurgan, Rossvale in Derry/Londonderry and Lord Street Avoniel in Belfast. A total of 1,369 residents are being contacted about the plan.

DUP MLA Sydney Anderson said, “This came as a bolt to residents and me as an elected representative.

“Understandably residents are concerned.

“It is imperative that all affected tenants receive adequate information about such proposed changes, particularly around the potential increase in rental charges.

“I will be following developments closely and I am fully committed to liaising with residents about such plans.

“I now intend to meet with the relevant authorities as there are many questions that need to be answered.

“This issue needs to be carefully handled and in full consultation with residents.”

A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said: “The proposal to transfer 254 Housing Executive properties in Killicomaine and 399 in Mourneview-Grey estate is still at a very early stage, and no housing association has, as yet, been appointed to develop this proposal with us. We have written out to all tenants.

“The Housing Executive would like to assure the tenants that it is they who will decide if their homes can be transferred. The conditions under which stock transfer takes place are designed to ensure that the transfer is to the benefit of the tenants.

Mr Watt said: “These homes all require significant refurbishment. As NIHE does not currently have the required resources, it believes there is a potential role for housing associations to use their access to low-cost private finance to facilitate the necessary tens of millions of pounds of investment.”