Agenda item


            The Committee was informed that representatives of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive were in attendance remotely to provide the Committee with its first annual update in respect of the 2019-2023 Housing Investment Plan for Belfast. 


            Accordingly, Mr. C. Bailie, Chief Executive, together with Mr. A. Hannaway, Deputy Regional Manager, and Ms. R. Taylor, Acting Head of Place Shaping (Belfast), were welcomed to the meeting.


            Mr. Bailie submitted for the Committee’s consideration the Belfast Housing Investment Plan 2020, which reported on the Housing Executive’s progress over the previous twelve months and presented its programmes for the coming year.  He explained that the plan was aligned to the outcomes of each Community Plan to show how the Housing Executive planned to support the work of the Council.  He detailed that it reflected four high level outcomes, as identified by the Housing Executive, namely, helping people to find housing support and solutions, delivering new and better homes, fostering vibrant sustainable neighbourhoods and delivering quality public services.


            Mr Bailie then drew the Members’ attention to the following key issues for Belfast, which had been identified within the Plan during 2019/20:


·         there were 10,819 applicants on the waiting list, with 8,143 of those in housing stress;


·         5,270 households presented as homeless between March 2019 and March 2020;


·         the Housing Executive made 1,664 placements into  temporary accommodation in the city;


·         319 new social homes had been completed in Belfast and 975 units were on-site at 31st March 2020, 328 of which started in the last year; and


·         the five-year assessment for 2019-24 showed a need for 4,778 additional social units in the city.


            Mr. Bailie also drew the Members’ attention to the long-term Tower Block Strategy as follows:


5 Year Life

6-10 Year Life

10+ Year Life


Mount Vernon






























            A number of other key housing issues were also identified, issues around chronic homelessness, land availability, the continued growth of the private rented sector, affordable housing/City centre opportunities, the impact of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.


            Mr. Bailie advised that the Covid-19 outbreak had made it necessary for the Housing Executive to make changes to the way it delivered its services, to ensure that both its customers and staff were protected whilst continuing to ensure that key essential services were maintained.  He explained that the Housing Executive had originally intended to deliver investment of £227 million across all improvement and maintenance activities in its stock in 2020/21, however, as a direct result of the ongoing pandemic, other than emergency situations and the undertaking of statutory inspections and servicing, these activities had been suspended in late March 2020. 


            Mr. Bailie concluded by confirming that the Housing Executive would regularly monitor progress against the objectives set out within the Housing Investment Plan and would report to the Council on an annual basis, however, advised that he would be retiring within the next year. 


            In response to a number of issues that had been raised during discussion, the representatives confirmed that:


·          the Housing Executive was examining ways of boosting housing supply

      in areas of  high demand.  It recognised that there was a high level of            demand            for housing coupled with a shortage of housing in North        Belfast which continued to be a popular place to live but noted that land   availability in the area was also a problem;


·         the Housing Executive was putting in place measures to mitigate against climate change and also in trying to address fuel poverty.  Cavity Wall insulation research was due to commence to establish its efficiency and effectiveness;


·         the Housing Executive noted that in respect of low housing stock there had been some discussion in respect of the future possible change of use of city centre premises, given that it was anticipated that businesses would suffer a fall out from the Covid 19 pandemic; and


·         noted that, whilst it was often difficult to encourage older people to move to smaller (more suitable properties), it was necessary to ensure that these properties became available for reallocation.  


            A Member thanked the representatives for the hard work and effort of the Housing Executive staff over the past few difficult months. 


            The Chairman, on behalf of the Committee, concluded by thanking Mr. Bailie for his work and commitment over the years and wished him a long and healthy retirement.


            The Committee noted the information which had been provided. 


Supporting documents: