Northern Irish housebuilders will have to meet a target of 20% affordable housing in all new developments in the province from next year.

Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie announced the measure in a statement to the assembly today.

The plans aim to tackle the province’s housing crisis where more than 38,000 people are waiting for social housing.

Proposals include: building at least 5,250 new homes over the next three years including more social houses; developing the first 500-home eco village at the former Grosvenor Barracks Military Base in Enniskillen; creating more mixed-religion areas; and encouraging co-ownership schemes for first time buyers .

Ritchie said: ‘I am determined to tackle this crisis not simply manage it. That is why I took some time to research the issues and identify these solutions that will start to immediately address the affordability crisis of today and the lack of social housing for tomorrow.’

She said the village area of south Belfast would also receive £100m investment once it was declared an urban renewal area.

The Village area has been subject to scrutiny following recent protests over the state of the housing.

‘The people of the Village have had to endure sub-standard housing for too long now.

'I gave them my word that I would not forget them and now that my budget has been finalised I am delighted to have been able to set aside substantial resources for work to begin in the area,’ said Ritchie.

The announcement follows the publication of an independent report by the former head of the civil service Sir John Semple.