Radical plans which could regenerate Ballymena’s Waveney estate - better known as the ‘Doury Road’ - have received a warm welcome from local politicians.
Built at the tail end of the 1960s, the estate was, at its inception, one of the most modern housing areas in Northern Ireland.
But by the mid-1970s, the estate was beginnig to exhibit all manner of social problems and it acquired an unsavoury reputation - in many cases based on poor understanding rather than reality.
What cannot be argued is that the Doury Road has long been classified as an area of ‘high deprivation’ and the very name was once synonomous with the drugs culture which blossomed in Ballymena from the late seventies and came to a peak of publicity in the mid-1980s.
In recent years, the community have been fighting back against these historical perceptions and the announcement of a regneration scheme for the area is another step in their long campaign to breathe new life into the estate.
The applause for the scheme was led by Ballymena DUP Cllr Paul Frew who commended DSD Minister Nelson McCausland for including Doury Rd in his plans for a province-wide housing led regeneration initiative when it was officially unveiled today in the town.
Frew explained “ This goes right back to the time when the Minister first took up office and I invited him to North Antrim to see at first hand some of the problems that our communities face. At that time he met with community representatives of all our large estates in Ballymena and travelled around them all to ascertain for himself the issues that they contend with .
“I’m glad to say that he has not forgotten that experience and he has worked tirelessly ever since to assist the communities where he can.”
The new approach will involve social, economic and physical actions by the Department for Social Development’s Housing , Urban Regeneration and Social Security Teams , working in partnership with statutory and voluntary organisations to develop solutions which will reverse decline and create sustainable communities .
Six pilot areas have been selected, one of which is at Doury Rd.
“The remainder are in and around Belfast so it is great to see this area included,” added Frew. “Having worked with the Doury Rd Development group for so long with local DUP Councillors like Alderman Maurice Mills, it is clear that their hard work is paying off in the community and is being highlighted at the very top of Government. It is also good to see the group getting the support from DSD that is needed to punch above its weight and to achieve even greater good for the local area.”