Community cohesion strategy

Community Cohesion Strategy 2015-2020

It is our duty to make sure that housing is provided on the basis of need. There is no doubt that community division and segregation affects many aspects of our lives. This can prevent the best use being made of existing housing and land.

People who need housing in the social and affordable sectors must have greater choice. If we are to meet housing need in all its forms we must work to make progress. Because of this, the promotion of good relations is one of our key objectives.

Among our aims is a commitment to promote mixed housing where it is practicable, desirable and safe. You can read more about our Good Relations Strategy here.

What is it?

Community cohesion is about:

  • creating a common vision and sense of belonging for everyone
  • valuing and appreciating people from different backgrounds and circumstances
  • providing similar life opportunities for people from different backgrounds
  • developing strong, positive relationships between people from different backgrounds in the workplace, in schools and within neighbourhoods
  • brokering good relations between groups and communities

Flags, emblems and 'sectional symbols'

We will continue to support and assist local communities regarding the removal of sectional symbols in their areas and we endeavour to take a  community led approach, where there is a willingness and a readiness to embark on the   journey to remove the outward symbols of sectarianism through the medium of art.

We will continue to support areas through the re-imaging process and establish links with key organisations to assist in developing estate based re-imaging projects.


An initial evaluation suggested a significant shift away from paramilitary displays. We will continue to roll-out the flag protocol with local councils and seek to create designated flag areas within social housing areas.

We have prepared a downloadable leaflet, A Good Practice Guide to Flags, Emblems and Sectional Symbols (PDF 264 kB) which can be downloaded below:

Bonfire management

The Improved Bonfire Management Scheme funded projects in Antrim, Newtownabbey and Ballycastle. Belfast City Council evaluated the Bonfire Management pilot scheme.

A regional bonfire policy is being developed to encourage communities to improve bonfire management. The issue of ‘designating’ bonfire sites is currently being discussed at the Good Relations Steering Panel.

Segregation and integration

We support the wishes of people who choose to live in single identity or mixed neighbourhoods. We do this by analysing and assisting the sustainability of mixed estates.

We also facilitate and encourage mixed housing schemes in the social and affordable sector as far as this is practicable, desirable and safe.

We are currently working with the Department for Social Development, housing associations and others to bring proposals forward for two pilot projects of mixed housing schemes in the medium term.

Race relations

We hope to demonstrate a clear and positive commitment to tackling race issues through our Race Relations Policy. We contribute towards race relations on a strategic and operational level through effective partnership working.

Interface areas

We work to develop opportunities to bring communities together. We have an ongoing programme of capacity building in areas of weak social infrastructure.

We continue to invest in improvement through environmental initiatives and regeneration programmes.

Communities in transition

We identify communities at risk and create the environment to allow timely and appropriate interventions.

We also engage with adjacent communities to foster an atmosphere of mutual tolerance and understanding, conduct regular audits and prepare local plans.

Community Cohesion Strategy - consultation responses

A summary of the consultation responses to the draft Community Cohesion Strategy document are now available.

Shared housing