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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 February 2008, 13:56 GMT
Plan to tackle 'housing crisis'
Grosvenor Barracks Military Base, Enniskillen
New homes are to be built on the Grosvenor Barracks site
A new housing agenda for Northern Ireland has been announced by Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie.

In a statement to the assembly, she outlined a series of new measures to tackle the housing crisis.

From next year, developers will have to make sure that 20% of every development counts as affordable housing.

Ms Ritchie told the assembly the Village area of south Belfast would be in line for 100m investment once it was declared an urban renewal area.

The plans include more social houses, the first eco village for Northern Ireland and more mixed religion areas.

She said her housing plans "will start to immediately address the affordability crisis of today and the lack of social housing for tomorrow".

There are currently 38,000 people waiting for social housing in Northern Ireland.

To tackle the problems the social development department have reviewed a number of studies, including the recommendations of an independent report by the former head of the Civil Service, Sir John Semple.

Build at least 5,250 new homes over three years
Make co-ownership scheme more attractive for first time buyers
Introduce not-for-profit Mortgage Rescue Scheme
Allow social housing tenants to buy stake in their homes
Developments to include a proportion of homes for social housing
Increase the energy efficiency of new social houses

Northern Ireland's first eco-village will be built on the former Grosvenor Barracks Military Base in Enniskillen.

A total of 500 mixed tenure homes are to be built on the site.

The minister also announced a 7m start for the Village area, after recent protests over unfit housing.

"The people of the Village have had to endure sub-standard housing for too long now.

"I gave them my word that I would not forget them and now that my budget has been finalised I am delighted to have been able to set aside substantial resources for work to begin in the area", she said.

DUP South Belfast assembly member Jimmy Spratt has welcomed the announcement that the regeneration of the Village area is to get underway soon.

"Investment in this area, which it is no exaggeration to say has some of the worst housing stock in Northern Ireland is long overdue.

"Other parts of the city have seen major re-development and home improvement project two or three times, whilst the Village has been left behind", he said.

The new plans will have implications for developers, the Housing Executive and people trying to get onto the property ladder.

Minister announces housing plan

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