COUNCILLORS have complained about the delay in delivery of housing schemes throughout West Cork.
At a meeting of the Western Committee, where a quarterly housing report was presented by the director of services, Maurice Manning, Sinn Féin Cllr Rachel McCarthy complained about the ‘very slow progress’ in building 56 houses at Beechgrove, Clonakilty.
Her party colleague, Cllr Paul Hayes agreed, saying: ‘Two years ago we sat here looking at plans for 56 units at Beechgrove in Clonakilty. Nothing has changed in two years. That is very frustrating.’
Cllr Hayes said: ‘Everyone is saying that Beechgrove will solve a lot of the problems, but there isn’t even a site notice up.’
But not everyone was unhappy. Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) pointed out that 15 houses in the Courtmacsherry area were submitted for approval at the end of March and were given the go-ahead at the start of May. According to Cllr O’Sullivan: ‘The Department is there to deliver funding.’
In Bantry, Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG) welcomed the fact that the housing body Clúid has appointed a design team for 16 units at the old Sisters of Mercy building and is receiving Council support under its Capital Assistance Scheme.
But Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) pointed out: ‘The roof has fallen in on the old school building and there is anti-social behaviour taking place in the grounds.
‘When the Sisters of Mercy handed over the keys to that property in 2013, they thought it would be completed within two years.’
The director of services for housing pointed out that there are two other projects receiving support under the Capital Assistance Scheme – a nine-unit development that is being constructed by the Rosscarbery Social Housing Association, and a further nine units by the Bandon Geriatric Association.
He admitted that the progression of the Clonakilty project had ‘taken longer than the Council would have liked’ but he confirmed that the Part 8 planning process would ‘happen in the next couple of months.’
Cllr Joe Carrol (FF) said the construction of six houses in Townshend Street, Skibbereen, was welcome, but he complained that not enough was being done to advance a major Public Private Partnership housing scheme.
He also complained that single people are being left in ‘limbo’ and he gave out about builders who ‘turn up with a bag of tools, do a bit of work, and then go away again.’
But Mr Manning took issue with this saying: ‘We have put frameworks in place for repairs. He said all contractors are now subject to a Service Level Agreement and Performance Measurement to ensure that a high level of customer service is applied across the County using performance indicators.’
Cllr James O’Donovan (FG) said it was good to see a major reduction in the waiting list – the figures show that the number has been reduced by 11.7% over the last three years.
But he asked why did Cork County Council need to use ‘the best quality’ materials for everything.
‘Are we getting the best bang for our buck?’ he asked. By way of example, Cllr O’Donovan cited one house that had polished concrete steps leading into a garden.
The discussion then turned to turnkey developments, which have been constructed by a builder and then sold to the Council for social housing.
Mr Manning told the councillors that an initial capital appraisal submission has been lodged with the Department of Environment for a 20-unit turnkey development in Dunmanway.
He said the Department of Environment has also given initial approval for a 30-unit development in Bantry and that the planning application for that development has been lodged, and that construction is underway on an 11 three-bedroom turnkey development in Bandon.