Work begins on 10 new social homes for Rathlin Island

image captionNelson McCausland (left) and Noel McCurdy at the official start of the construction of the homes

Construction has begun on the first social homes to be built on Rathlin Island in 18 years.

The 10 houses are situated at Church Bay and will more than double the island's social housing stock.

Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland was at the official start of construction on Monday.

He said the homes would "bring new and returning residents which will contribute to the regeneration of Rathlin going forward".

"The design and delivery of high quality energy efficient social housing will protect the homes from the worst of the Atlantic elements and will, in turn, help protect the tenants," he added.

"Rathlin is Northern Ireland's only inhabited offshore Island and is therefore a unique asset.

"These homes will help protect the future of the island and ensure that it remains a permanent residential community for generations to come.

"I am pleased to play my part in safeguarding the future of the island."

The new homes are being constructed by Apex Housing Association.

The Department for Social Development said the association had enhanced the building fabric of the homes and greatly increased air tightness, "in recognition of the exposed island location".

It said the homes would be "around 44% more energy efficient than the current building regulation standards".

Noel McCurdy, chair of the Rathlin Development & Community Association, said the new housing programme was "a tremendous support for the sustainability of the Rathlin community".

"Affordable housing is very limited here and this vital scheme will provide opportunity for young islanders and new Rathlin families to remain in the community and be a part of its future," he added.

"We are delighted that the Department for Social Development and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive are able to support the community in this practical way."

Gerry Kelly, Apex Housing Association chief executive, said his organisation was pleased "to assist the Rathlin Development and Community Association in their efforts to ensure the provision of good quality housing on the island".

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