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Anger as ‘Council homes’ go private 

May 26th, 2024 9:45 PM

By Jackie Keogh

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COUNCILLORS in West Cork have responded with anger to a property owner’s decision to withdraw houses at The Miles in Clonakilty from an Affordable Housing scheme.

At a meeting of the Western Division on Monday, director of housing Maurice Manning confirmed that Cork County Council is ‘extremely disappointed’ with the owner.

‘We had negotiated to acquire a number of houses and had secured the funding, but the owner came back and said the houses were no longer available,’ he said.

‘His intention is to sell those on the open market,’ said the director, who confirmed that the owner of the site had offered other houses to the local authority but they ‘wouldn’t work as affordable housing. That is the reason we have withdrawn from that arrangement.’

Social Democrat Cllr Chris Heinhold raised the issue after taking calls from people who had been looking forward to making an offer on 22 two and three-bedroom houses. In March, Cork County Council had advertised the availability of the houses and they were supposed to open up for applications in recent weeks.

Under the Affordable Housing Scheme, a three bed semi-detached house was advertised as costing €250k, but the same houses are now listed at the current market price of €355k.

‘We are all disappointed that the affordable housing project for The Miles has been shelved,’ said Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind), who said people are desperate for housing with countless people finding it next to impossible to get affordable rental accommodation.

He also pointed out that the ‘hundreds of bids’ on houses that become available under the Council’s Choice Based Letting scheme is an indication of how desperate people are.

‘We have a lot of employment but we have no housing,’ is how Cllr Karen Coakley (Ind) described the housing crisis. ‘It’s driving up emigration, too, because people can’t afford to live here.’

Cllr Caroline Cronin (FG) called for the provision of more serviced sites, while Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said services such as schools in villages like Baltimore and Castletownshend will dwindle and die if more social housing isn’t provided.

Pearse Street Investments Ltd, the owner of the site, this week issued a statement saying that it was ‘very much regretted that despite lengthy discussions and negotiations with Cork County Council’ it was not possible to reach an agreement which was ‘wholly acceptable to both parties for the delivery of 22 houses under the affordable housing subsidy scheme operated by Cork County Council’.

Their spokesperson added: ‘As the properties are now in an advanced stage of construction, the owner is under time and financial pressure to complete the sales. It should be noted, however, that 36 of the 38 houses in the development qualify for the first home and/or the help to buy schemes which provide financial support from the State to first time buyers and are being marketed accordingly.’

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