Property boom helps Shankill Road to forget the Troubles

For decades, the only way to spark interest in houses on Belfast's Shankill Road was to paint sectarian murals on the walls amid the economic stagnation of the Troubles.

Jayne Farrell did not have any time yesterday to think about the past. She was too busy dealing with a new sort of interest in the Shankill Road's housing - the sort that has turned this one-time byword for strife and staunch loyalism into an unlikely property hot spot.

Ms Farrell, an estate agent whose company opened its office on the Union flag-lined street just three months ago, is at the centre of a housing gold rush.

Terraced houses on the road and its adjoining streets have more than doubled in value from £70,000 last year to £150,000, while developers are rushing to finish a series of new buildings to meet a burgeoning demand. Such is the frenzy of bidding that offers of £20,000 to £30,000 over the asking price are commonplace for red-brick, back-to-back houses that a decade ago were among the most blighted homes in the UK. Instead of murals commemorating "heroes" of banned paramilitary groups and highlighting atrocities, houses in the area are now adorned with "For Sale" signs.

Ms Farrell, the manager of TMS Homes, said: "The market is extraordinary. I closed bidding on a house yesterday where the asking price was £129,950. By the time it had finished the price was £151,000. It is mostly local people and some landlords who realised that for an area so close to the city centre, Shankill Road is undervalued."

The road was the scene of an IRA bomb attack in 1993 which was designed to kill senior loyalist paramilitaries, including the notorious Ulster Defence Association leader Johnny Adair. Nine people were killed in the attack. Now the street is being touted as an example of the peace dividend in Northern Ireland.

House prices across the province rose by an average of 23 per cent last year and are predicted to increase by a further 15 per cent over the next 12 months.

One of the reasons for the boom has been the inward investment into Northern Ireland and strength of the economy.

Unemployment is at a record low with the arrival of 9,000 new jobs every year. Businesses are attracted by low labour costs and a youthful workforce - in Belfast 46 per cent of the population is under 30.

The centre of the capital is receiving a £14m facelift while the city as a whole has attracted nearly £900m of investment since the Good Friday peace agreement.

But it is the one-time flashpoints of the conflict where the effects of normality, set to be tested and cemented next month by elections to determine the future of power-sharing in the province, are more telling.

The Falls Road, the bastion of nationalism which runs close to the Shankill Road in west Belfast, has seen already seen its own property renaissance. Once a thoroughfare of boarded up shops, now almost every commercial property is occupied.

Esther McAllister, 27, is one of those joining the rush to return to Belfast and the Shankill Road. She bought a terraced house in the area shortly before Christmas. Ms McAllister, a secretary whose parents moved out of the area in the 1980s, said: "We left because it had become too dangerous and unpleasant. But now Belfast is a thriving, buzzing place and I wanted to come back. The Shankill got a bad reputation, probably justifiably, but there is still a strong sense of community and the old mindset is changing. I'm just glad to be back."

But enthusiasm for the property boom is not universal. Community groups have complained that private landlords are exploiting rising prices by increasing rents and forcing low-income tenants out of their homes.

Cecil Lemon, of the Community Network Group in the Shankill area, said: "Landlords are buying old public housing stock and leasing them out to people. I know of one case where a guy took a house on a six-month lease and was then told he had to get out because the house was sold. A few weeks later another 'To Let' sign was up."

Troubled history

* The statues of the Shankill Road as a fault line of the conflict in Northern Ireland was cemented on 23 October 1993 when two IRA bombers walked into Frizzell's Fish Shop.

The two men - Thomas Begley and Sean Kelly - entered the shop disguised as deliverymen carrying a bomb intended to assassinate the high command of several loyalist factions meeting in a flat above.

Unbeknown to the IRA, the meeting was changed and the men murdered nine people, including two children, when the bomb went off prematurely. Begley was also killed.

The Shankill Road had been targeted because it was a bastion of loyalism. The area was separated from nationalist areas throughout the Troubles by so-called peace walls.

Chief among the paramilitary groups were the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Sport
Erik Lamela celebrates his goal
football

Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
people

Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview? Think again

Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
News
i100
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Voices
Don’t try this at home: DIY has now fallen out of favour
voicesNick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of it
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
Sport
Phil Jones (left) attempts to stop the progress of West Bromwich Albion’s James Morrison on Monday
Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo, writes Paul Scholes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher

£4848 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Outstanding...

Cover Supervisors/Teaching Assistants Secondary Schools in York

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Cover Supervisors/Long Term Teaching Ass...

Science Teacher

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher...

Cover Supervisor

£55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Cover Supervisors needed for seco...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker