Three years of rural progress
Published: Tue, 10 Jul 2012
We recently launched our rural progress report - “Rural Review” - at an event held in Markethill, County Armagh. The report sets out the work we've been involved in across rural Northern Ireland during the past three years.
The Progress Report has two sections - one focussing on our performance against each of the 48 actions and the other focussing on case studies which demonstrate the impact the plan has had in rural communities; there is a case study of a rural project in each District Council outside Belfast.
35% of the local population live in rural areas and we recognise that a different approach is sometimes required to deal with rural concerns. It was for this reason that we developed our three year ‘Rural Homes and People’ Action Plan in 2009. We are now pleased to report that the majority of the actions set out in that plan have been progressed, often through working in partnership with others. It is particularly pleasing to note that the last three years have seen record levels of social housing starts in rural areas.
Addressing housing concerns helps those in need and contributes to rural development and regeneration. It is essential that we build on the progress made and continue to tackle housing issues that affect rural communities. With this in mind, we are now developing a new Rural Action Plan which will be consulted on later this year.
Key achievements of the plan
- Record levels of social housing starts in rural areas - with increases in the rural percentage share of starts in each of the last three years
- Completion of 30 tests to assess rural need
- Establishment of the Rural Residents’ Forum as a focus group on rural matters.
- Exceeded rural target for Warm Homes Installations (40%)
- Production of specific guide on housing matters for rural young people.
- Introduction of a match funding initiative for rural groups applying for Rural Development Programme funding.
- Input into the recently launched NI Rural White Paper Action Plan.
Our ‘Rural Homes and People’ strategy relates to settlements of less than 4,500 population where 35 % of the population reside. The policy is rolled out through a three year Rural Action Plan which commenced in 2009/10.