Has Belfast Got A North-South Construction Divide?
Belfast has had its historic divides based on identity, but it seems the latest difference between different parts of the city could be when it comes to getting new housing built.
Construction firms seeking plant machinery for sale in Northern Ireland may find that they are more likely to be busy doing so for locations in the south of the city than in the north.
As the Irish News reports, campaigners in the north have been unhappy at what they see as political pressure being brought to bear on councillors to hold back the development of much-needed social housing.
They say that while nearly 2,400 applicants on waiting lists for social housing are listed as being in housing stress and many blocks need to be demolished because they are no longer fit for purpose, plots that had been earmarked for building have been reallocated for other uses.
Among them is land close to Belfast Orange Hall, which Frank Dempsey of Carrick Hill Residents' Association said the Department for Communities was not earmarked for residential development due to political pressure.
Discussing the shortage of new housing in the area, he asked: "How long are people in housing waiting lists, both Catholic and Protestant, going to be denied?”
The situation appears to be somewhat different on the opposite side of the city. Earlier this month plans to demolish and replace three homes in one of the most exclusive streets in the Malone Park conservation area were approved by council planners, despite several local objections and concerns raised by council officers, Belfast Live reported.
It may be of concern if it becomes common for the plant equipment to be regularly rolling into action at sites in affluent, owner-occupied areas, while low-income areas with social housing that needs replacing and brownfield sites that could be used to ease waiting lists are left untouched.
Northern Ireland needs new homes like any part of the UK, with shortages of supply potentially contributing to it being one of only three regions identified in the Halifax House Price Index for June as having seen prices increase over the previous 12 months.