HC Deb 13 February 2004 vol 418 c173W
Mr. Rosindell

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action is being taken to regenerate under-populated residential areas. [154846]

Mr. Spellar

There a number of policies, both specific and general, designed to help regenerate under populated residential areas.

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive actively seeks to revitalise areas that have experienced population loss and which may also suffer from unfit or vacant housing stock by the use of statutory powers to designate Redevelopment Areas and Urban Regeneration Areas, together with programmes of Renovation Grant activity. The NI Housing Executive is also currently engaged in developing a range of strategies and programmes which seek to facilitate regeneration and sustainable communities such as: Empty Homes Strategy. The Rural Strategy. Estate Renewal, Neighbourhood Renewal and Community Development Strategies. Living over the shop and town centre living. Arterial Routes Studies.

Additionally, the Regional Development Strategy for Northern Ireland has the objective of creating sustainable communities and regenerating urban areas. It requires that 60 per cent. of future new build housing be sited within the existing urban footprint. The NI Housing Executive contributes to the Policy Planning Strategy 12 document in respect of Housing Need Assessments that are to be completed as part of each Development Plan. These highlight the housing needs required to achieve sustainable and affordable housing within settlements across Northern Ireland.

In addition, while not specifically targeting under-populated areas, the Department for Social Development's tools for regeneration clearly impact on such areas, and in particular, Northern Ireland's most disadvantaged communities. The Department's wide range of strategies and programmes such as the Urban Development Programme, Urban Development Grant, Environmental Improvement Schemes, and the recently launched Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy, aim to revitalise areas of slower growth, promote social cohesion, and help build more socially, economically and environmentally sustainable neighbourhoods.