Northern Ireland Housing Conference 2019
12th April 2019
A shift in how people are living
12th April 2019

Creating welcoming neighbourhoods

Clanmil is passionate about a shared future for all. Whilst 78 per cent of people would prefer to live in a mixed religion neighbourhood, 90 per cent of social housing is still single identity. This highlights a substantial need for change.

Social homes in Northern Ireland are allocated through the Housing Selection Scheme which tends to reinforce this division. A fundamental review of this selection scheme has been delayed by the ongoing stalemate at the Northern Ireland Assembly. Meanwhile, Clanmil and other housing associations are working to create opportunities for people who want to live in neighbourhoods that are safe, accessible and welcoming to all.

This work needs community buy-in and Clanmil’s focussed promoting integration initiatives develop relationships within communities and help create conditions for shared neighbourhoods to be possible.

Over the past year Clanmil has been promoting four new Shared Neighbourhoods in: Dundrum, Belfast, Banbridge and Crossgar. Working with political, community and statutory representatives, Clanmil’s Community Cohesion Team has created specific Shared Neighbourhood Charters for each new neighbourhood.

Newly refurbished tenants’ lounge at Clanmil’s housing scheme for older people in Banbridge.

Tim O’Malley, Community Development Manager at Clanmil explains: “This approach recognises the role of the local community and is something that Clanmil believes is very important. Each charter reflects the area and local peoples’ priorities. It is real and genuine engagement with people on what matters to them.”

In south Belfast, Clanmil supported a cross-community initiative that led the way for people from Ballynafeigh Cultural and Heritage Society and Bredagh GAA to join in a landmark visit to Ballynafeigh Orange Hall. This high profile visit had its roots in workshops organised by Clanmil for its new shared development at the Embankment. 

O’Malley continues: “We also work with young people to promote sharing. In Dundrum, we brought four local primary schools together for a fun, educational cross community arts programme that encouraged the children to consider what the concept of sharing means to them.”

A piece of art created through these workshops is now on public display at Clanmil’s new development in the village. 

In Banbridge, a longer term project with Banbridge High School, St Patrick’s Banbridge and New-Bridge Integrated College is engaging young people in the reality and challenges of integration over their five years in secondary school.

Whilst Clanmil and others are promoting more shared neighbourhoods, O’Malley explains how Clanmil is now extending innovative approaches to other neighbourhoods where community cohesion is challenging.  He says: “In a small number of areas, groups ‘claiming’ ownership can result in unsettled neighbourhoods. This can have sectarian motives but sometimes is a result of territorial disputes between paramilitary groups within one identity.”

In response to localised challenges, Clanmil is adopting stakeholder driven strategies focusing on promoting positive involvement from tenants, whilst working with multiple agencies and partners in each area to construct a framework for progress.

New life for historic Rosetta Cottages

Clanmil Housing is committed to providing much needed homes in areas of housing need. The Group recently completed work on the historic Rosetta Cottages in south Belfast where six grade B2 listed cottages, that had been vacant for over 15 years, were restored to create two family homes.

The landmark terrace, at the junction of Belfast’s Ormeau and Ravenhill Roads, transferred to Clanmil following its merger with Hearth in 2016. They had been purchased by Hearth in 2012 with funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund.

The recently restored and refurbished Rosetta Cottages.

Rosetta Cottages were built in the early 1800s and are thought to be some of Belfast’s oldest houses. Once known as Saddler’s Row, farmers would call on saddlers who lived there to buy harnesses or have equipment repaired.

Siobhan Brown, Clanmil Development Manager says: “The cottages are a well-known landmark and people were keen to see them restored.

“We’ve retained their original character on the outside. Inside, they’ve been renovated to suit modern family life including underfloor heating and secondary glazing. Many original features have been reinstated including architraves, skirtings, picture rails and sash windows.”

The project was funded by Clanmil with the assistance of housing association grant from the Department for Communities.

Brown continues: “It’s wonderful to see families back in these special cottages. Restoration work like this protects our built heritage and provides unique homes for people who really need them.”

Current heritage projects being delivered by Clanmil include the restoration, refurbishment and extension of the former blood transfusion building in Durham Street, Belfast to provide 12 apartments, the restoration and extension of listed buildings at the old Downe Hospital in Downpatrick to provide 41 homes, restoration of a former constable’s house and jail house in Ballymoney to provide eight homes and a conversion and restoration project in University Street, Belfast to provide three apartments.

Homes to be proud of

Clanmil is delivering a major five-year refurbishment programme that is making its homes look great and work well for people who live in them.

The Association is investing more than £8 million to ensure that the homes it provides are comfortable, safe and secure and really good places to live for many years to come.

In the past year more than 140 kitchens, almost 100 new bathrooms and hundreds of new windows and doors have been provided. As well as that, over 500 homes have been redecorated and fire alarms, emergency lighting and lifts have been upgraded across a number of the Association’s housing schemes.

A particular focus this year for Clanmil was the interior decor of communal areas within some of its housing complexes for older people. These areas are really important to sustaining vibrant communities within these schemes and people living there are really enjoying these fresh, modern spaces.

Group Director of Assets at Clanmil, Tony Giffen says: “At Clanmil we pride ourselves on the homes we provide and we invest not just in maintaining them, but also in making them as safe, secure, warm and attractive for the people who live in them as possible. We work really closely with our tenants so that we get the very best benefit for them from the money we invest.”

Clanmil Housing Association
T: 028 9087 6000