Property crash opens a door (Guardian)

Laura Haydon of the Guardian reports how the property crash is creating opportunities to increase mixed neighbourhoods, as property developers have few choices but to sell their vacant new residential properties to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, for the benefit of social housing tenants.

It is interesting to witness how the market is providing where political will faltered. You see, as a party policy officer at the Northern Ireland Assembly, I recall assisting Eileen Bell MLA in providing evidence to a visiting committee from Westminster, on the topic of affordable housing, etc. Mrs Bell argued that property developers should be compulsorily made to allocate a fixed percentage of new build for social housing tenants. Unsurprisingly, this was deemed too radical a concept.

Furthermore, I used my own personal experience in Belfast, where I was aware of social housing tenants on my street, but that there were no issues; the tenants kept to themselves as much as everyone else on the street. My argument was that it was better to mix social tenants with the rest of the community, than separate them into their own housing ghettos.

Thus, a potential happy double outcome of the current property crash is that as developers concentrated their efforts building houses in more middle-income areas, new mixing will occur on both religious backgrounds and economic status.

Who says the market can’t provide?

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