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Reputation of area as a ‘ghetto’ for students is a turn-off, it’s claimed

Families on housing waiting list rejecting Holyland, meeting told

By Paul Ainsworth

FILLING social housing in the Holyland area of South Belfast is proving problematic – thanks to party-loving students. Though private landlords own the majority of properties in the area, some are owned by the  Housing Executive and Trinity Housing and are used for social housing. However, the rowdy behaviour of undergrads who live in what is often dubbed a “student ghetto” has put off even those families and individuals who are on the social housing waiting list.

The issue was raised at a recent meeting of the Holyland Stakeholder Forum in Malone House, which was attended by Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry. Discussions centred on the need for purpose-built student housing, as recommended in the Holyland Stategic Study, which, published in a blaze of publicity back in March.

Hard-pressed long-term residents of the network of streets behind Queen’s University are keen to see more non-students living locally in order to “normalise” the area, but at the Stakeholder meeting, it was revealed that the Holyland’s reputation is a barrier for some.

Holyland resident and Stakeholder Forum member Ray Farley said: “It was described how filling the social houses in the Holyland is problematic, due to the level of anti-social behaviour in the area.

“The Housing Executive have a handful of properties in the area, but it was the other main social housing provider that is struggling to bring people to live here. The ‘anything goes’ reputation brought about by years of anti-social behaviour here is not helping to sell the Holyland as an attractive place to live, if you are a person or family in need of social housing.

“Hopefully, as we work on the findings of the Strategic Study, and see the eventual normalisation of the area, things will change for the better. It’s important we get a good social mix here, so that it’s not simply seen simply as a ‘student area’.”

A spokeswoman for the Housing Executive said eight of their nine Holyland properties were occupied, adding: “We are aware that another social housing landlord operating within the Holyland area has experienced some letting difficulties, citing anti-social behaviour as the reason.”

Responding to the claims, a spokeswoman for Trinity Housing told this paper: “Whilst it’s true that some incidents in the university area reported in the media have not helped demand, Trinity Housing continues to let its properties.

 

“The ‘anything goes’ reputation brought about by years of anti-social behaviour here is not helping to sell the Holyland as an attractive place to live, if you are a person or family in need of social housing.”

“The university area has the advantage of being adjacent to cultural and social amenities, and is within walking distance of the city centre.”

 

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