Convent site ‘pool' is now well secured, vows owner

January 28th, 2016 11:50 AM

By Jackie Keogh

An area which was once the nun's garden at the Convent of Mercy building in Skibbereen which became flooded during the storms in December. (Photo: Anne Minihane)

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THE owner of the former convent property in Skibbereen has taken all necessary steps to secure the perimeter, after he received complaints that part of the site had flooded and formed a pool.

‘When I was notified of the flooding issue, I acted immediately to render the property secure from unauthorised access,’ Bernard Hennessy of Ballineen told The Southern Star.

Mr Hennessy travelled to Skibbereen recently to oversee the works and meet with Council officials, whom he invited to inspect the property once the 2.5m-high metal perimeter fence was reinstated.

Mr Hennessy also asked the Council to assist him in draining the flooded area and the area engineer is considering the best way to have these works completed.

The property developer, who purchased the convent in January 2015, said that he originally secured the site by erecting steel fencing but this had been damaged during the winter storms.

‘Now that the fencing has been fixed – and the site in no longer accessible – we will have to monitor the water situation, which is contained in a sloping site between 2m and 6m below ground level,’ he said.

Mr Hennessy explained that the ‘pool’ was created when the site was excavated by the former owner for an underground car park. He maintained that the water situation ‘is not in itself critical but will be monitored and dealt with as necessary.’

However, concerns over the site had been raised by a number of people who contacted The Southern Star over the holiday period, when they saw it filling with water after the floods. 

When the property developer purchased the convent property, it had planning permission for around 50 apartments, a cinema, a car park, a restaurant in the Church, and offices.

Planning has, however, lapsed. Nevertheless, Mr Hennessy said he is evaluating a number of plans for its future development. He said: ‘I believe the site has tremendous potential. It will have its day. But the property market has not sufficiently recovered in the Skibbereen area for a large scale development.’

Mr Hennessy also confirmed that he has formally submitted an offer to purchase the adjoining Mercy Heights secondary school, which will be vacated in June prior to the opening of the new Community School.

He clarified that the ‘For Sale’ sign on the perimeter relates to the part of the property that has planning permission for a cinema, and said: ‘If anyone is interested in purchasing this fifth-of-an-acre site for any commercial enterprise, they can contact Charlie McCarthy Estate Agent in Skibbereen.’

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