SIX new houses for single people and the elderly will be built in Townshend Street in Skibbereen next year.
Pete Jones, an engineer with Cork County Council, told members of the West Cork Municipal District that the relevant planning process would be advertised this week.
He said the single-bed houses have been designed to a high spec and come with ‘over-sized’ bedrooms that could be adapted to provide room for a carer.
With 124 people on the Council’s waiting list for one-bedroom houses, the engineer said the €1.2m scheme is being considered by Cork County Council as a pilot project that could be rolled out throughout the county.
Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) said he believed the plans should include a second bedroom, but the engineer reassured him that the houses are sufficiently large to accommodate a carer.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said six houses for single people, including the elderly, was something of a breakthrough because up to now he had been telling single people that they did not qualify for housing.
‘When I said that to people they would tell me they were on the housing list,’ said Cllr Carroll, ‘but how could they be when there were no houses available for them?’
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) said it was good to see that the houses were modern in every respect, including being fitted with wet rooms, and that they are centrally located.
Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG) said the plans – like the recently drawings for the renovation of the convent buildings in Bantry – would finally address the needs of single people.
Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) also urged the Council’s engineering department to assess the old convent buildings in Clonakilty – a town that had ‘zero’ housing offers in 2017.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said he had recently been shown photographs of the desperate conditions in which a single man was living.
He said it was heart-breaking to think of the conditions in which some people are forced to live.
In that case, he said he approached a well-known organisation that works with the elderly but they, too, are trying to deal with ‘a big backlog.’
The engineer made a second presentation at the meeting – this time he outlined the Council’s plans to build 19 houses on a greenfield site behind the church in Dunmanway.
Mr Jones said phase one would be completed at a cost of €4m but there was potential to build a total of 50 houses on the site.
Nine of the new houses will have three-bedrooms, but the fact that the remaining 10 will be two-bedroomed was welcomed by Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) who said it was more good news for single people and couples looking to get a Council house. He said it was good news for Dunmanway, too, because it would give the town ‘a population boost.’
The planning process that the Council must complete will be done in April and work on the first phase of the development is expected to be completed in 2019.
‘For the past 12 months, we have been looking at plans,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan, ‘but now we are starting to see sods turning.’