John McLean, Chief Executive for Radius thanked Councillors for their help over the past year to commence the project at a special virtual Council meeting focusing on social housing.
Radius, in partnership with Sean Dolan’s GAC, will deliver new homes, alongside sports and community facilities in the Creggan area.
Mr McLean said: “We are delighted to get this project under way, both in terms of its mixed use and obviously the number of different players who came together to make it possible. It will bring 120 new homes to the area which is just tremendous. Also the work on the Ebrington Barracks site - we have been very pleased to advance that and we are pleased with the progress on site.”
Radius currently own over 980 properties in the Council area and during 20/21 over 4,000 response repair jobs were completed. “We work hard with our tenants on the ground and the Board to make sure we are providing the best possible overall service,” Mr McLean said.
Aisling McStravick, Director of Assets for Radius added that it aims to maintain housing stock in a ‘lettable condition’ that exceeds statutory requirements.
She added: “Over the last year we have had a particular focus around sustainability and are ensuring all our projects and our planned programmes now consider EPC ratings and performance of our stock. That takes into account issues such as cavity wall installation, the installation of l.e.d. lighting, anything that improves efficiency and we are still rolling out a significant programme of heating replacements.”
Aontú Colr. Emmet Doyle said he didn’t want to be a ‘negative nelly’ before mentioning a case of a Radius tenant in his DEA. He said: “There was a young mother with a young child who was pregnant and she had been left in her home without heating for four weeks and in terms of support from Radius she had been sent blow heaters. There’s been a number of single mothers in particular that feel that they don’t get a full hearing. Now I don’t have anything to back that up other than their word.”
Responding, Mr McLean said: “We are focussed on the issue of hardship and we have no hard attitude to single mothers and I am happy to discuss this with you after.”
Philip Mooney, Assets Manager for Habinteg, which has over 900 properties locally told Councillors: “We obviously recognise the importance of repairs to our tenants and always endeavour to get the repairs completed as quickly as we possibly can.”
Habinteg’s development programme was touched on as Mr Mooney said: “We currently have works onsite at Central Drive in Creggan, Duke Street, Abercorn Road, Letterkenny Road and we are due to start the Adria site in Strabane.”
Independent Colr. Gary Donnelly raised the issues of Eden Square, referring to episodes of violence, threats to tenants and furniture thrown out of the windows. “It has deteriorated again over the last two months,” he said. “I feel Habinteg have reneged any responsibility to the tenants of Eden Square and I have been dealing with this for a long time and I just keep getting brushed off,” he claimed, adding: “I know of at least three families that have applied to leave and of two families whose children won’t go back to the property because of what they have seen.”
Mr Mooney responded saying: “I am the Maintenance Manager but I will take on board your comments and pass it onto the Housing team and hopefully get you a response on that.”
Mr Tony Griffin, Group Director of Assets, Clanmil Housing, which has 188 houses in Derry and Strabane, including 143 apartments, said in terms of maintenance and repairs tenants have been “very patient” and they were working to clear a backlog.
“I think all contractors have struggled and all housing associations have struggled,” he said as a result of factors including COVID, and labour, material costs and availability.
Mr Griffin also spoke about Clanmil’s plans to ‘decarbonise’ properties and ‘future-proofing’, “Our stock is relatively new in comparison to the Housing Executive so we have a higher energy performance rating but we are well short of where we need to be by 2040 towards zero carbon. We have identified some of the poorest performing and work will start on that in the next two years.”
By Gillian Anderson
Local Democracy Reporter