Sinn Féin activists say they will make the provision of social housing in rurally dispersed areas such as Cloney and Crosskeys a priority at both Assembly and Council level.
North Antrim MLA Daithí McKay and Bannside Councillor Patrice Hardy made the pledge after meeting with Housing Executive officials in Ballymena to discuss planning policies which they feel have adversely affected these specific areas.
Mr McKay said: “There is clearly a problem with planning policy when it comes to dispersed rural communities such as this. PPS21 is not adequate in this regard but we are of the opinion that Crosskeys and Cloney is a dispersed rural settlement under CTY5 and should be designated as such under the new area plan.
“I will be asking the Environment Minister to look at this deficit in planning that puts distinct rural communities such as this at risk in terms of future sustainability. Rural families have a right to continue living in the countryside under reasonable planning restrictions. PPS21 is not reasonable and not suitable to the dispersed structure of communities such as this.”
Cllr Hardy added: “Before I was elected I made a commitment to work for more and better housing in this area and this is one of a number of meetings we will be having with statutory bodies about delivering high quality social housing in this rural area. Community workers in this area did sterling work in recent years to progress social housing and it is important that this work is now followed up on.”
“Cloney and Crosskeys is a community in itself and has a number of focal points. It is vitally important that the new area plan that will be drawn up by the new council recognises that this is a dispersed rural settlement and that consideration will be given to the provision of up to 14 new dwellings under present policy.
“We will be meeting with the Chief Executive and planning officials in the council to outline that this should be a priority now that the councils are operational.”