12 social housing bungalows built in Derry over five years

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There have been an average of just around two social housing bungalows built in Derry in each of the past five years, the ‘Journal’ can today reveal.

Figures obtained from the Housing Executive (HE) yesterday show that from April 2011 to April 2016, there were just 12 new build bungalow/ wheelchair standard completions in the Derry area.

A HE spokeswoman said: “A further eight are currently under construction and there are an additional five properties which are wheelchair accessible, but not bungalows.”

The HE said the current five-year housing need projection up to 2020 for wheelchair type accommodation for Derry is 36 units.

“At March 2016, there were 27 applicants on the waiting list requiring wheelchair accommodation,” she said. “The HE also supports housing associations to develop homes designed specifically for active older people. There are currently 59 active elderly units under construction and a further 23 currently programmed to start in 2016/17.”

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan said that while the acceleration in social housing construction generally in Derry would help reduce waiting lists, he had “very serious concerns about the provision being made for bungalow type accommodation.”

He said: “If you need bungalow type accommodation on health grounds or if you are disabled, you have to be referred by an occupational therapist to the Housing Executive. This can be a very long process. If we are to move forward and have a better mix of our housing stock it’s clear that there needs to be a higher percentage of bungalow type accommodation in Derry.”

A Department for Communities spokesperson said: “Although the development of bungalow type accommodation is not prohibited, it is more costly to develop. All new social housing is built to the Lifetime Homes standard which includes additional functionality and accessibility that can, from the outset or through simple and cost-effective adaptation, allow older people to stay in their own homes for longer, reduce the need for home adaptations and give greater choice to disabled people.”

He added that the Department was introducing new processes and design standards for all social housing development from 2017/18, which should result in new wheelchair accommodation being programmed more systematically.