St Patrick’s is Radius Housing’s new flagship shared housing development in Ballymena, with a focus on building a ‘shared community’ from the very beginning.
“Community is better when it’s shared”
St Patrick’s was built on this principle and endeavours to continue to build a shared and united future for its residents and the lovely people of Ballymena. It’s a model we strongly feel that can redefine what ‘housing’ means in Northern Ireland for years to come.
The site consists of 135 social and affordable housing units. It’s a shining example of what ‘community’ means in Northern Ireland today.
The site once served as an Army barracks and was a staple in the community for generations.
The land was first owned by the Adair family who were largely responsible for building Ballymena into what it is today.
The Adair’s maintained the land for centuries dating back to the Ulster Plantations. A military site was purchased and built in the 1930s as a response to rising tensions in Europe. After the Second World War, it became a retraining ground for ex-prisoners of war returning from the continent to build their skills and trades.
Later, it became an infantry training grounds and was subsequently home to The Royal Ulster Rifles, Royal Irish Rangers and the Royal Irish Regiment. Operations slowly ceased in 1998.
No doubt, there is a sense of loss, especially from those who worked and served in the barracks. But there is also a sense of solace in the fact that a new, thriving, shared community has been built in its stead.
“A united community, based on equality of opportunity, the desirability of good relations and reconciliation – one which is strengthened by its diversity, where cultural expression is celebrated and embraced and where everyone can live, learn, work and socialise together, free from prejudice, hate and intolerance.”
The site owned by Radius, have employed MJ McBride to build the properties, as well as sought oversight from the NI Housing Executive, Mid & East Antrim Borough Council and range of other public and community stakeholders who form the Ballymena Advisory Group.
The estate is part of the ‘Housing For All‘ initiative administered by the NI Executive Office’s ‘Together: Building United Communities’ programme – ensuring that all people from all backgrounds have fair and equal housing in NI today.
“In the past, it was a case that a builder built things and that was it. Now, for a construction company to operate in a community, they have to work with the community. That’s something we have taken onboard and gladly adapted to. It enriches us all and really creates a sense of community from the first brick laid to the last family ‘through the door’.”
Mark Connor, MJ McBride
Northern Irish communities are tight knit. Being ‘social’ is a rite of passage.
Most people living in NI know what ‘social housing’ means. However, our team feels strongly that ‘social’ should not be limited in socioeconomic terms. Being ‘social’ – i.e., making connections and building relationships – is a vital part of building inclusive and cohesive communities. The site, consisting of social and affordable housing, is open to people of all backgrounds, cultures, creeds and means.
“We no longer look at ‘binaries’. We look at the entire range of socioeconomic, ethnic and cultural spectrum, ensuring representation across the diverse community that is Northern Ireland today; not yesterday.”
Harry Maher, Department for Communities
‘Social housing’ cannot be truly ‘social’ unless it is truly ‘shared’. ‘Ownership’ goes beyond property at St Patrick’s. St Patrick’s has ensured that every aspect of this new estate is not just ‘community-led’ but ‘community-owned’. We are keenly aware that it is the community that are the experts on what they want and need and not the other way around.
The hope is that the St Patrick’s model will inspire change, growth and regeneration in Ballymena and further afar.
St Patrick’s is much more than just housing, however. It’s a community.
The site in the heart of Ballymena will also host a new state of the art leisure centre, community hub, a wing of the Northern Regional College campus, a small business tech centre and workspace, Council offices, a link road and a new police station.
It has been developed alongside pre-established businesses and venues such as the Fairhill Shopping Centre, Ballymena Showgrounds and Ecos Nature Park. The site will enhance the ambience of the town centre and aid in fostering investment and a new buzz about Ballymena.
Join us on our journey of putting sharing back in housing and community back into the heart of Ballymena!