Hot desks and ‘office pods’ for chapel gutted by fire

September 6th, 2023 1:05 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Building work is starting on the former convent site in Skibbereen. (Photo: Andy Gibson)

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WORK has started on the development of apartments at a Skibbereen site which includes a chapel that was gutted in a major fire in September 2020.

The proposed €15m development includes 52 elder care apartments, and six terraced houses.

Paul Collins, the chief executive and founder of Remcoll Capital, confirmed that work began last week on clearing the historic, but now derelict, Sisters of Mercy convent and chapel site at North Street.

Mr Collins said work should begin in two months’ time once the housing body, and Cork County Council have signed off, and the builder has signed off on his final price.

The former convent buildings and chapel were purchased, in principle, in 2019, but issues, including an appeal to An Bord Pleanála in relation to traffic management, the arson attack in 2020 and, pf course, Covid, delayed the project.

Now that these issues are resolved, Mr Collins estimates the project will take 18 months to complete.

Skibbereen is, in fact, one of 100 sites that Remcoll is planning to develop, with approximately 50 units in each location as part of its elder care programme.

‘We will be rolling this out across the country as part of a five to 10-year programme,’ said Mr Collins.

The founder of Remcoll said he got the idea for the project after hearing a radio report on homelessness amongst older people.

‘Since then,’ he said, ‘our team has developed a programme with designs and locations that we believe fit in within the government’s Our Shared Future plan which identifies the need for people to stay at home and still receive the best of care.’

‘This will be a big spend in Skibbereen,’ he added, ‘and it will be retained and kept within the community.’

In addition to the elder housing aspect of the plan, Mr Collins said community access will also be provided to facilities, such as hot desks and office pods in the former chapel.

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