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Council reveals plan to tackle housing crisis in West Cork

April 12th, 2022 8:30 AM

By Jackie Keogh

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With the nation in the midst of an ongoing housing crisis, Cork County Council’s housing chief recently gave a detailed account of how the local authority plans to tackle the issue.

CORK County Council delivered 627 dwellings to people on the housing list in 2021, and assisted two families and six single people from entering homelessness.

A review of the Council’s housing services was provided by Maurice Manning, director of housing, at a recent Western Division meeting.

He said the 627 dwellings were provided across a range of local authority initiatives including 59 local authority builds, 132 turnkey developments that were sold directly to the Council, acquisitions, the repair and lease scheme, as well as the buy and renew scheme.

However, in a review of the figures, which showed ‘homeless prevention to Hap’ (the housing assistance payment scheme), he said three single people had been assisted so far this year.

Meanwhile, the number of ‘exits from emergency accommodation to Hap’ included three more single people, plus two families, while the overall figure for the county was six families and 12 single people.

Mr Manning informed the councillors that his department had set a target of 750 new housing units for the end of 2022. 

The number of projects at the design stage so far this year is 77, of which 12 are in Ballydehob, two in Rossmore, 16 in Macroom, 27 in Crosshaven, and six in Bantry.

There are 53 dwellings at the tender stage, including 17 in Courtmacsherry, eight in Macroom, and six in Bandon.

There are already 72 under construction in the county of which six more are to be completed at Beechgrove in Clonakilty, 18 at Kearney’s Field in Dunmanway, six at Townshend Street in Skibbereen, 15 in Carrigaline, two in Macroom, one in Dunmanway’s Main Street, and one in Bandon.

In a breakdown of the financial cost of the construction programme for 2022, Mr Manning said the development at Chapel Lane in Ballydehob is expected to cost €3,216,914, while the Carrigaline development is expected to cost €4,414,009.

In Bantry, the construction of six dwellings at Old Barrack Road is expected to cost €1,881,864, while the 17 dwellings at Courtmacsherry has been budgeted at €3,885,456. 

The 18 houses at Kearney’s Field in Dunmanway will cost €4,699,950 while the 17 houses at Courtmacsherry has an estimated cost of €3,885,456.

Meanwhile, Mr Manning said 12 units have been completed as part of a turnkey development – an initiative in which builders sell directly to the Council – at the old Baltimore hotel site.

Mr Manning said the department has approved 34 more units as part of another turnkey development at Caherdaniel in Bantry, as well as a further three more units at Seafield in Bantry.

In Castletownbere, department approval has been given for 16 turnkey units at Derrymihan West in Castletownbere, plus six more in the village of Eyeries.

Under the county-wide turnkey programme, Mr Manning reported that 33 units are now complete at Abbeyfort in Kinsale, where there is approval for a further 17 units.

Skibbereen is to get 34 new dwellings under a turnkey development that has received departmental approval. Mr Manning also confirmed that a planning application for that development has been lodged with the local authority.

In a recap of work done, he said the social housing Public Private Partnership  (PPP) scheme had delivered 52 houses in Clonakilty, 50 in Skibbereen and 50 in Macroom – all of which have been completed and are now tenanted.

Both Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind) and Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) said the lack of accommodation for people using wheelchairs, or people with mobility issues, needs to be tackled at every stage and with every new development.

And, in terms of voids, or vacancies, Cllr Karen Coakley (FG) asked if there was any way of reducing the number which currently stands at 37 in West Cork.

Mr Manning said that of the 1,912 total housing stock in West Cork, the 37 vacants represented 1.93% of the housing stock. ‘This is an extraordinarily low figure because there are constantly properties being vacated and refurbished,’ he said. ‘We are satisfied that everything is being done to return these properties as quickly as we can.’

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