Call for Top of the Hill housing

Colr. Lynn Fleming with Geraldine O'Donnell, Top of the Hill 2010 project manager. (2207PG17)
Colr. Lynn Fleming with Geraldine O'Donnell, Top of the Hill 2010 project manager. (2207PG17)

Community leaders in the Top of the Hill area of the city have called for social housing to be built in the area to meet the growing level of demand.

Former mayor of Derry, Lynn Fleming has said she deals with calls from local people looking for houses in the area “on a daily basis.”

The Sinn Féin colr. also said that in three out of four areas in the district, more former Housing Executive homes are privately owned than remain with the Executive and housing association estate.

One family living in temporary accommodation in the estate have said they have been waiting for a suitable property in the area for six months and have “no idea” when they will be rehoused.

Colr. Fleming said many other families in the area are in a similar position. “This is a very popular area in terms of people looking for housing but the problem is that there is such a low turnover of houses that the waiting list is growing all the time. The only turnover we have in this areas is, sadly, when someone dies. People area not leaving the area. They want to stay and bring up their families here,” she explained.

“The Housing Executive identified the Top of the Hill as an area in need of housing and anyone working in the community here knows that. As an elected representative, there is not a day goes by that I don’t get calls from people concerned about housing,” she added.

The former mayor also said a new housing development has been proposed for the area which could help reduce the waiting lists. “Plans are at an early stage to build social housing on the country park site and we are hopeful that we’ll get the go ahead. We have met with Apex, Housing Executive, the DUP, SDLP, and Derry City Council and everyone is supportive of the plans. Developments of this size would have to be handled by the Belfast planning office so we would be hoping that the Housing Executive locally would be making a case for this area,” she said.

Geraldine O’Donnell, project manager with Top of the Hill 2010, said; “The Gobnascale area remains in high demand in relation to social housing with relatively high waiting lists. Furthermore, lower land prices have led to a recent influx of private development in the area. Increases in owner occupation rates have also skewed deprivation levels in the area that can lead to decreased social funding

“Waterside 1 covers the estates of Knockdara, Fountain Hill, Gobnascale, and Hollymount. There were 337 Housing Executive properties in stock with 381 already sold. The social housing waiting list has increased from 83 in 2005 to 117 this year,” she said.

Local man Eamon Doherty said his family are currently on a waiting list for a house in the area.

“We are waiting for a four bedroom house and have been for six months.

“Every time we ring up we are told that we are on the list but we don’t know how many are above us. I know of many other families in the area that are in the same boat as us,” he said.