Northern Ireland

Nama releases £9m for housing scheme at Millmount, Dundonald

Nama, the Irish government asset agency, has released £9m in funding for a major housing scheme in Dundonald, on the outskirts of east Belfast.

Image caption Nama was set up by the Irish government in 2009 in response to the banking crisis

The funding will allow a 95-unit development on the Millmount site to proceed.

Nama, which controls billions in property loans passed on by Irish banks, said the scheme will create 100 jobs during the construction phase.

The construction period is expected to last 18 months.

The site has planning permission for 510 residential properties and more may subsequently be built if the first phase is successful.

'Troubled history'

The scheme will be developed by the Lagan Group, in partnership with the administrators.

The Millmount site has had a troubled history.

It had been owned by the Taggart brothers and financed through Anglo Irish Bank, but their business was placed into administration in 2008.

An earlier attempt by Anglo to get development moving through a deal with the Lagan Group fell apart whenever the debt moved from Anglo to Nama.

It seemed the preferred option for Nama and the administrators was to sell the site.

Now the partnership arrangement is back and Nama is releasing money to allow development to proceed.

'Fire sale'

The deal was welcomed by Finance Minister Sammy Wilson who said it was an example of the "positive role" Nama could play.

"I had previously called on NAMA to manage the significant assets it controls in Northern Ireland carefully and had sought and received assurances that it would not engage in any sort of 'fire sale'.

"This is evidence of NAMA taking a longer term measured view in this regard," he said.

The Northern Ireland property loan book accounts for around 4% of Nama's overall portfolio.

To date, the agency has released around £100m for debtors based in Northern Ireland to further developments here and elsewhere.

Nama has also sold around £90m worth of property loans based in Northern Ireland.