Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has today cut the first sod at a new £6.5million shared social housing scheme at Ogle Street in Armagh City Centre.
The development is being provided by Ark Housing Association with support of £3.4million from the Department for Communities. The scheme is a ‘Housing for All’ project which promotes sharing and integration in housing.
The social housing scheme will deliver 42 homes including a mix of town houses and apartments, including wheelchair accessible accommodation to meet the housing needs of citizens.
Speaking at the event Minister Hargey said: “I have asked the department to begin the biggest reform of social housing in over 50 years. This includes building more homes, where they are needed. This new social housing scheme will provide much needed homes for families in housing need in the Armagh area. It reminds us too that homes make neighbourhoods and schemes like this create places where people want to live and to thrive as a community.
“When the transformational plan to make our housing system better was outlined, a key component was to improve housing, and to make sure there is a lot more of it. This Ogle Street scheme in Armagh demonstrates my commitment to delivering more homes through an ambitious housing programme consistent with New Decade New Approach. I want to build more homes that meet the needs of our society, now and in the future.”
Strategic Community Cohesion Plan
Total scheme costs are in the region of £6.5million and will be financed through Department for Communities Housing Association Grant of £3.4million and private investment by Ark Housing of £3.1million. The scheme as part of the ‘Housing For All’ programme is also eligible for an additional £598,000 Good Relations funding. Ark Housing will roll out a strategic community cohesion plan over a five year period aimed at bringing people together.
Dr Deborah Donnelly, Ark Housing Chair said: “On behalf of Ark Housing Association, and our developing partners Ogle Street Investments, I was delighted to welcome DfC Minister Hargey, Lord Mayor Savage and NIHE Chief Executive Grainia Long to mark the official launch of this shared housing and mixed tenure residential development.
“Ark Housing achieved 232 new homes on site in the past 12 months in our drive to help meet social housing need, 42 of which are at Ogle Street. This success would not be possible without the support and financial assistance provided by DfC and NIHE and I would therefore like to thank Minister Hargey for her ongoing commitment to the Housing Association sector.
“My colleagues and I look forward to working with Ogle Street Investments on bringing this £6.5million project to completion by the end of 2023, and to working with the local community to ensure its long term sustainability through the delivery of our Shared Future Strategy.”
South Lake Leisure Centre ‘Go Award’ Winner!
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough (ABC) Council together with Farrans have recently scooped a prestigious ‘Go Award’ for the brand new, state-of-the-art South Lake Leisure Centre build.
Taking place virtually on 27 May 2021, the Government Opportunities (GO) Excellence in Public Procurement Northern Ireland Awards recognise innovative public procurement practices within local and central government as well as the private sector.
Bagging the Social Value Award for its contribution to the local area, the South Lake Leisure Centre project helped bring together over 10,000 individuals to take part in progressive education and employment programmes during its construction.
With a shared vision to leave a lasting legacy, the collaborative initiative focused on creating a thriving economy underpinned by the skill set of the local people; empowering and strengthening communities; and tackling social inequalities.
“What a fantastic achievement!” commented Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Alderman Glenn Barr.
“This award win is a testament to everyone’s hard work, dedication and determination to continually go beyond normal standards in order to make a real difference to the lives of people in the local area. I would like to congratulate everyone involved in this impressive project – very well done!”
During the South Lake Leisure Centre construction, the project exceeded apprenticeship targets and work experience targets by 37% and 73% respectively.
Sarah Fearon, Community Business Partner for Farrans, said:
“As a business we recognise our ability to have a positive and lasting societal impact through the delivery of our social value programmes, which bring economic, social and environmental benefits to the communities in which we operate.
“Our core business operations enhance prosperity through our commitment to procuring goods and services locally, supporting SMEs, creating apprenticeships and job opportunities, and working closely with our supply chain to drive innovation.
“We were pleased to have the opportunity to work collaboratively with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, social enterprises, schools, local suppliers and the community to ensure that we placed the needs of the people at the heart of our operations at South Lake Leisure Centre.”
Local Residents, Businesses, Council Staff & Councillors Work Up a Sweat for Charity!
Last week saw local residents, businesses, council staff and councillors run, cycle and paddle to help raise vital funds for the Oxfam India Covid-19 Appeal – with donations still open!
Led by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, the calorie busting fundraiser got into gear on Tuesday 8 June at South Lake Leisure Centre – seeing everyone from fitness fanatics to those up for a challenge take part in instructor-led spin classes, a biathlon involving running and kayaking at Craigavon Lakes and a day long spin-a-thon.
While the fundraising challenge reached the finish line on Friday 11 June, donations continue to roll in and will continue to be accepted until Wednesday 30 June 2021.
Funds raised will help Oxfam distribute PPE and medical equipment to hospitals and health centres; provide food and cash to the most vulnerable; and remove the barriers to increasing vaccine production and ensure access for everyone.
Thanking everyone who took part in and donated to the charity challenge, Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Alderman Glenn Barr commented:
“I’m so pleased to see so many of the borough’s residents, businesses, council staff and elected members get behind this worthy cause and help raise money for the Oxfam India Covid-19 Appeal.
“In council, we’ve forged strong working relationships with many government and business leaders in India since our first trade mission to the country back in 2017. As we witnessed the devastating scenes coming from the region over the past number of weeks, we felt compelled to do something to help the people of India in their hour of need.
“We hope our fundraising efforts will help support Oxfam’s ongoing response to the crisis and I would encourage everyone to continue to donate if they can.”
In 2017, council established a long-standing association with India through the launch of the ‘Export to India – Go East Programme’. This programme enabled businesses from across the borough to take part in a trade mission to India, establishing many positive business partnerships, particularly in the Chennai region.