The event marked the official launch of the new Hawthorne Gardens development which is one of 10 Shared Neighbourhoods being delivered under the Northern Ireland Executive’s Together: Building A United Community (T:BUC) strategy which aims to build a more shared society.
The homes at Hawthorne Gardens have been allocated to people from the social housing waiting list and the different religious and cultural background of the residents will ensure a shared future for the people who live there.
The new 32 home development provides 4 specially designed wheelchair homes, 11 two-bedroom semi-detached family houses and 17 two-bedroom apartments, including 15 specifically for active older people. The total cost of the homes was £5 million, with the Department for Communities funding £2 million through the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Clanmil Housing funding £3 million through private financing.
Clare McCarty, Group Chief Executive at Clanmil Housing was joined by local political representatives in welcoming the families to their new homes. She said: “Shared housing schemes give people the choice of living in neighbourhoods with people from many backgrounds and traditions and Clanmil is committed to delivering modern, quality homes that are welcoming to all.
“There has been 100% sign up to a good relations charter by the people who live at Hawthorne Gardens. This sets out good neighbour principles agreed by the local community and demonstrates our tenants’ commitment to living together in a mixed neighbourhood.
“These families are helping to shape the future and Clanmil will be supporting them as they settle into their beautiful new homes and new neighbourhood.”
Clanmil has been working with local schools over the past number of years to promote an understanding of what living in a shared neighbourhood means. This work has included a cross-community arts programme for three primary schools – Edenderry Primary, Bridge Integrated Primary and St Marys Primary – along with an ongoing project with Banbridge High School pupils.
Gillian McDowell, whose family has moved into one of the new homes, said: “Everyone is getting on really well. We’re getting to know each other and the kids are playing together and enjoying the green space. It’s how I want my family to live and I’m sure it’s the same for the other tenants. I don’t really think about it as shaping the future. We’re just getting on with our lives in our lovely new homes.”