£50 million funding package 'will help tackle housing shortage'

Radius chief executive John McLean (left) and director of finance Eddie McGowan with Joanna McArdle of Barclays Corporate Banking

A £50 million funding agreement between Radius Housing and Barclays it likely to help tackle housing stress in areas of high demand, supporting the construction of 800 social and affordable homes between now and 2020.

The funding package is one of the largest in Northern Ireland's social housing sector in recent years and will support Radius Housing's development plans between now and 2020.

Radius was formed a year ago with the merger of Fold and Helm Housing Associations, and is already rolling out ambitious development plans, which include the completion of 330 new homes and a recent planning approval for a £35 million mixed use development at the former Visteon site in Belfast.

Some 244 homes and 60,000 sq ft of employment space, community facilities and open leisure spaces will be built on this location, providing up to 300 permanent jobs.

Radius was also chosen to lead regeneration projects in Hope Street, Belfast and St Patrick's Barracks Ballymena, with a combined potential for up to 400 more new homes. This new funding facility will enable Radius to commence more than 800 new social and affordable homes on site by 2020.

John McLean, chief executive of Radius Housing, said: “As well as helping help tackle housing demand, this funding package but will also address employment and wellbeing needs, making communities more resilient in these challenging times.

“We value our partnership with Barclays, whose working knowledge in this sector meant they have understood our vision for diverse and vibrant communities. With their expertise, we were able to agree this funding package within a very tight time-frame and can now focus on bringing our ambitious plans to life.”

Joanna McArdle, relationship director of Barclays Corporate Banking, said: “We have a long history of supporting social housing in Northern Ireland and our clear commitment made us uniquely positioned to secure this landmark deal.

"It is one of the most significant in recent years, bringing a much-needed boost to two of our most vital sectors, construction and housing.”

Meanwhile phase one of a much-anticipated social housing scheme in Ballymena has been opened by Choice Housing.

The £8.5 million Larne Road development was funded by an investment of £4.4m from the Department for Communities, with a further £4.1m by Choice Housing Association through private finance.

The scheme, designed by Knox & Clayton Architects, is built on the former site of St Mary's Primary School and will provide 74 new homes that will accommodate 238 people and incorporate the latest energy-saving, design and security features.

The development is a mix of two- and three-bedroom homes and two-bedroom apartments including one ground floor wheelchair accessible apartment.

Phase one includes the first 12 units of the development, which will be available from late April, with phase two and three following shortly.

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