Construction has begun on a $1 billion home renovation project in Northern Irish County Antrim with the help of a local cottage industry.
The project, dubbed The Great British Cottage Holiday Homes, was announced in September.
The project is part of a $3 billion redevelopment of the county’s existing cottages, a series of six that will house a total of 2,500 people.
The cottage industry in Northern England has been on the rise in recent years and is now estimated to be worth up to $1 trillion, according to the National Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
“We’ve always had an interest in this sort of thing,” said Mark Kelly, a director at Newport House, a cottage industry group based in the region.
“People have been working on this for generations and it’s very exciting to be able to get it going and really help people understand that.”
The Great British cottage industry has long been the mainstay of Northern Ireland, with some 5,000 cottage owners renting out their homes to people wanting to relive the Northern Irish experience.
However, the boom has slowed in recent decades.
For decades, the cottage industry relied on migrant labour, but with the advent of the Internet, more workers were attracted to the cottage market, which has seen a dramatic rise in new entrants since Brexit in March 2019.
In 2017, the number of migrants entering the industry increased by an estimated 75 per cent, with more than 10,000 workers from Britain, Ireland, the U.K., the U:S.
and other European countries coming to Northern Ireland to work.
In 2018, the industry experienced a five per cent increase in foreign-born workers, according the Newport House report.
With this new initiative, the Newport house group hopes to ensure that the cottage community, which for many years had a strong presence in the community, has a say in how the industry is run.
“Our hope is that the industry and the cottage owners will have the opportunity to participate in the design and development of this project, to be a part of the decision-making process,” Kelly said.
The Great Britain government’s Northern Ireland Development Agency has approved the project and will begin work on the project by the end of the year.
The first two buildings, which will include three large, fully furnished homes, are expected to be completed in 2019.