THE social housing overcrowding nightmare for Bawnmore residents may soon be a thing of the past after a housing association meet with local residents last night (Wednesday) to discuss their plans for 55 new homes in the area.

Fold Housing Association met with residents and community representatives at Bawnmore Community Centre to discuss their plans.

Last week Fold confirmed that they have expressed an interest in buying the new houses from the developer who currently owns the houses at Ben Madigan Nursing Home near what used to be Bawnmore Drive.

Last night’s meeting was the first in a series of community consultations about the potential development.

Seamus Kelly, chair of Bawnmore Residents Association, said residents are hopeful that the homes can help ease the housing overcrowding in the area. “Overcrowding is a major problem in Bawnmore but people have been put off from putting their name on the list for the area because there was little chance of getting a house here,” he said.

“Now with last night’s meeting residents see that that may now start to change. It feels like a miracle and hopefully it can all be followed through.”

Newtownabbey Sinn Féin councillor Gerry O’Reilly, who was at the meeting, said local people can now start to consider Bawnmore again as a first preference for social housing.

“Over the years people have felt discouraged in regards to coming on the housing list because there wasn’t enough homes in the Bawnmore area. There is the feeling that this is starting to change. This opportunity is long overdue and it will go some way to easing the problem of overcrowding.”

A spokesman for Fold said: "The meeting at Bawnmore last night was very positive and Fold will continue to work hard to ensure that we do all that we can to deliver 55 new homes within the next few months. The response from the local community to date has been very constructive and we are looking forward to building strong local relationships."