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Another year of rural progress

Published: Tue, 9 Sep 2014
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Pictured are Patricia McQuillan, Rural Residents Forum; Kate Clifford, Rural Community Network; Cameron Watt, NIFHA; Stephen Fisher, Rural Housing Association; Tim Gilpin, NIHE; and Orla McCann, SCNI.
Rural Annual Report launch
‘Rural Homes and People’ our Annual Progress Report for 2013/14 published showing another year of significant progress.
The report sets out the work undertaken by the Housing Executive in delivering the first year of its Rural Action Plan 2013 - 2015.
Mags Lightbody, Housing Executive acting Chief Executive said: “We know the importance of rural areas as places to live and work and we have been working to help build strong vibrant communities.
“The Housing Executive is pleased to record, in partnership with the housing associations, we were able to start 15 new schemes for 105 new social homes in rural areas across Northern Ireland. These new homes will not only provide much needed accommodation in rural areas but will also help sustain rural communities.
“It can often be challenging to identify suitable sites for social housing in rural areas.  To help deliver new  schemes, we have been working to identify potential  new sites which could be developed in the future.
“We also invested almost £250,000 in 18 rural projects through the Rural Development Programme. Providing match funding we were able to assist a range of projects from village plans to refurbishment of community facilities, helping rural communities regenerate their areas. We also successfully launched a rural community awards competition to support and reward rural communities who work together to make their neighbourhoods better places in which to live.
“In addition to regenerating rural communities our Rural Homes and People Action plan helps to support vulnerable people. Key achievements included:
  • Providing housing support services with new services implemented during the year for vulnerable people living in rural areas;
  • 3,200 homes received heating or insulation measures through the Warm Homes scheme;
  • 2,800 grants were approved to replace old inefficient boilers;
  • 992 private sector grants approved for repairs and improvements.
“The achievements to date are the result or our work in partnership with other organisations and the drive and enthusiasm of local communities who have a vital role in the delivery of our Rural Action Plan.  For our part we remain committed to delivering high quality, value for money services which are responsive to our customers’ needs and which ensure sustainable and vibrant communities for the future.”
Patricia McQuillan, Rural Residents Forum commented: “When you live in a rural area, your community is extremely important. I am delighted at the progress made this year by the Housing Executive, the housing associations and all the organisations working with us. Many rural communities  are already seeing the benefits and we look forward to another year of progress.”