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NIFHA | Policy | Development


Developing new homes for social rent and providing affordable options for home ownership continues to be a priority for housing associations

Housing associations are government’s key delivery partner in providing the new social and affordable homes that Northern Ireland needs. The Social Housing Development Programme is funded by the Department for Social Development and administered by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. Affordable housing is funded and administered by the Department for Social Development.

Connswater 3 Scheme (2)

Track record

Housing associations in Northern Ireland have a strong track record of delivery when it comes to providing high-quality new homes. The Northern Ireland Executive’s 2011 Programme for Government set a target of 8,000 new social and affordable homes to be delivered by 2015.

Housing associations exceeded these targets delivering over 6,000 new social homes and nearly 4,000 affordable homes though Co-ownership.

This year the sector is currently on track to deliver the 1,500 target for new social homes and 500 new homes through shared ownership.



New social housing is provided using a mixed funding model. Government contributes approximately 50% of the cost of a new home, with housing associations using this grant to secure additional private financing. That might be through bank lending, the capital markets or the European Investment Bank. Since the mixed funding model was introduced housing associations have secured nearly £900m in private finance for the provision of new social housing.

Affordable housing is now funded through interest-free loans from government. Co-ownership, which provides the majority of shared ownership homes in Northern Ireland, receives government support through Financial Transactions Capital (FTC) and has just secured £100m for the next four years. A new government programme – the Affordable Homes Loan Fund – is piloting another affordable housing initiative called FairShare, led by Apex, Choice and Clanmil. This £19m fund also uses Financial Transactions Capital.



Housing associations remain committed to developing much-needed new housing; however, there are significant challenges:

  1. Access to land – finding the right sites, at the right price, in the right location
  2. Rising costs – land and construction costs are rising and housing associations must work within funding parameters set by government
  3. Planning – challenges of engaging with new planning policy and administration
  4. Opposition to development – many communities do not want social housing developed in their area and will campaign against schemes

Developing new homes is a high risk area of activity for associations. These challenges can lead to delays, additional costs and, in the worst case scenario, potential schemes having to be abandoned.

We are working closely with our partners in DSD and the NIHE to support continued delivery of new homes in spite of the challenging development environment. Housing associations are proactively developing new approaches, such as competitive design and build, to help address the need for new homes and the challenges facing the sector.

Our manifesto outlines our key ‘asks’ of government to further support development activity.

The recent report of the Housing Supply Forum provides more detail on the difficulties facing housing associations and private housebuilders in Northern Ireland.



Housing associations want to meet the need and demand for new housing. We are committed to providing new social and shared ownership homes now and in the future.

But that doesn’t mean doing things the same way. We want to build more than great homes, we want to build thriving communities. That means more mixed-tenure development; with social housing and homes for shared ownership, private rent and market sale. It also means more mixed-use development; with play areas, community facilities, retail and commercial space. And it means shared housing; with people able to live together in communities that are open and accessible to all.

To deliver these aspirations, housing associations will need to develop more innovative approaches to procurement and development. We will need to work closely with communities and elected representatives; local councils; private sector developers; and our partners in government. And we’ll have to think differently about design and place-making.

Providing the homes and communities we all want to see in Northern Ireland will be about partnership and working together.

Life as a Development Director

One of our members is Triangle Housing Association who primarily deal with supported living housing. Below is a video of their Director of Development, Raymond Nicholl, on the challenges he faces in his job.

What we’re delivering

Member Documents Consultation Responses

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