Minister outlines vision for housing ahead of opening new £100m development

Date published: 20 March 2024


Communities Minister Gordon Lyons has set out his priorities for housing, including building more social homes and providing more affordable housing options.

Minister Lyons cuts the ribbon at Black Ridge housing project

The Minister was delivering the keynote address at the Northern Ireland Housing Conference in the Europa Hotel, Belfast, before attending the opening of the Black Ridge housing development in west Belfast.

Addressing the conference, which brings together a range of organisations from across the housing spectrum, the Minister said:

“Rents and mortgage rates are rising and there is massive demand for private rentals and social housing, yet over the last few years housebuilding has declined. If we want to avoid sliding into a housing crisis, we must deliver the housing we need.”

The Minister outlined his intention to make progress in a number of areas.

“We need to build more social homes to address growing housing stress,” he said. “We need to deliver more affordable housing options. We need to support people to live independently in their own homes and feel part of their community. We need to provide better quality homes so people can live comfortably and safely.

“Of course, this work needs to be done at a time when budgets are under pressure across the public sector. However, we have to do it, as otherwise thousands more households and families will struggle to buy a home or pay their rent.”

Acknowledging the size of the task ahead, the Minister added:

“These issues won’t be fixed quickly, or indeed easily. But now, more than ever, we need to work collectively – at all levels of government, with stakeholders, delivery partners and communities – to address the situation we face.”

The Minister then spoke before the official opening of the Black Ridge development in west Belfast.

Currently the largest housing development under construction in Northern Ireland, the development will provide 653 new homes, including 549 social homes to rent and 104 affordable homes for sale through shared ownership.

The Minister said:

“As Minister, I am pleased to be opening this transformational project. Landmark developments such as Black Ridge are a significant step in addressing the housing need which exists in this community.

“Everyone has a right to a decent standard of housing. And yet, a home is much more than bricks and mortar. It begins with a roof over someone’s head. But it extends far beyond that, into a collaborative effort which supports individuals and families.”

The £102m scheme has been supported by £52.4million Housing Association Grant funding from the Department for Communities and £49.4million private finance investment by Apex Housing Association. 

The Minister added:

“We recognise that houses can be designed and built, but communities are developed and nurtured. And I thank all those here today for giving me the opportunity to share in this event.

“Schemes of this size and nature are the result of a tremendous amount of work, involving individuals, organisations, communities and government at various levels. I commend Apex Housing Association, and indeed all those involved, and wish the residents every happiness in their new homes.”


Notes to editors: 

  1. For media enquiries please contact the Department for Communities Press Office
  2. Follow the Department on Twitter @CommunitiesNI
  3. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekend and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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