THE former Mercy Convent in Bantry is to be converted into 18 accommodation units for the elderly after a planning hurdle was cleared.
James O’Halloran of the Clúid Housing Association, which will be overseeing the redevelopment with the support of Cork County Council, confirmed that eight two-bedroom apartments will be developed in the existing two storey convent.
The development will also include seven one-bedroom apartments in a single storey terrace, plus two more two-bedroom apartments in the single-story school building on the eastern side of the site. The three-storey school block to the rear of the site is to be demolished, but the adjoining chapel is to be conserved.
The part eight planning process to allow the project proceed was approved by the West Cork Municipal District in Bantry on Friday.
Seamus De Faoite, senior executive officer in the housing department, said the announcement was ‘a positive news story for Bantry.’
James confirmed that since the Sisters of Mercy handed over the convent site six years ago, Clúid had done a lot of work with their consultants, JCA Architects, Cork County Council, design and conservation teams, and the planning department. He said he was satisfied that the historic building has been sensitively redesigned and would ‘fit in well with the existing design.’
Speaking at her last meeting before retiring, outgoing Fine Gael councillor, Mary Hegarty, said she was pleased to see the project progress because lack of housing is such a major issue in Bantry.
With 180 people on the Council’s housing list, county mayor Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) said he had no doubt that Clúid would ‘do a good job’ while Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) agreed: ‘This is indeed a good day for Bantry.’