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Work on much-needed Bantry homes in former convent set to get underway ‘in the New Year’

January 5th, 2022 5:45 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Delays with the change of use of the Convent of Mercy in Bantry is causing frustration in the area.

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‘IT’S nine years later and building hasn’t even started,’ Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said in exasperation over the delay in starting an 18-unit housing project in Bantry.

In 2013, the Sisters of Mercy formally handed over the keys to the door of the Convent of Mercy in Bantry to the housing organisation Clúid to provide social housing.

Cllr Collins said the people of Bantry had a reasonable expectation that the organisation would work in partnership with Cork County Council to provide housing for single people in a timely manner.

‘We saw the proposed design for the development a number of years ago, but the process is way too slow, especially given the housing crisis,’ said Cllr Collins.

‘Hardly a week passes where I don’t get a call from people looking for somewhere to live, and most of these people are single,’ he stated at a meeting of the Western Division of Cork County Council.

‘I look up at the site every day and see nothing happening,’ he added, ‘We need to push these things a bit faster.’

Senior housing officer Seamus De Faoite informed the councillor that the necessary preliminary works are ‘at the final stage.’

‘The enabling works were completed during the summer and Clúid went out to tender,’ he added. ‘Those tenders are in and have been assessed and approval is now being sought from the department.’

Pending approval by the department, the housing officer said work could commence in the New Year.

‘This is a substantial project,’ he added. ‘The department will have to assess all the costs, but I hope to report back that they will be able to start in quarter one.’

Cllr Collins said that was ‘welcome news’ but he agreed with a submission made by Cllr Karen Coakley (FG) that the list of single people needs to be addressed as ‘a matter of urgency.’

The Council’s director of housing, Maurice Manning, agreed that a significant proportion of the local authority housing list consists of single people.

‘Our programme doesn’t reflect that yet, but we are,’ said Mr Manning, ‘seeking opportunities to address that.’

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