Former Cork office block to undergo €10m conversion into local authority downsizing housing project

Former Cork office block to undergo €10m conversion into local authority downsizing housing project
An aerial view of Springville House, Blackrock, Cork

A 1960s former office block in one of Cork’s most desirable residential areas is to undergo a €10m conversion into a local authority downsizing housing project.

City councillors have sanctioned an amended Part 8 plan to adapt and extend the former Springville House in Blackrock, and then change its use to facilitate the development of 35 residential units within the fabric of the existing office building.

It was advertised as a social housing scheme but the scheme was amended during the public consultation process to deliver a dedicated downsizing scheme only.

It is hoped that work to deliver a mix of one and two bedroom units in Springville House will start before the end of this year. It could take up to 15-months to deliver the units.

It is the first time an outdated commercial or office facility will have been converted to a modern residential building as part of a local authority housing project.

It will be modelled on the city council’s successful Árus Mhuire downsizing development on Skehard Road, where 30 units are fully occupied.

The council offers homes in such developments to people in under-occupied local authority housing, or to people in private homes who may be considering downsizing, in a bid to free up property for social housing.

Under the terms of such downsizing deals, a local authority can offer buy private homes from homeowners at a discounted rate which is determined by the age of the homeowners, and then offer them a tenancy in a downsizing scheme.

Several city councillors praised the housing directorate for addressing various local concerns.

The city’s head of housing, Brian Geaney, welcomed councillors’ decision to give the project the green light: “It will assist in tackling the housing crisis. It is a very sustainable and innovative solution that will regenerate the area and will be major financial investment in Blackrock and the city."

The 0.6-acre site is on Blackrock Rd, close to Ashton School and the South Link Rd. Homes in the area regularly fetch prices at the upper end of the market.

The site contains the almost 17,600 sq ft former headquarters of Pettit Consulting Engineers, which was acquired by Mott McDonald in 2006.

The Springville House project was one of several social housing projects signed off by city councillors on Monday.

They also approved loans under the capital assistance programme to Sophia Housing to provide four social housing units in the Hollies on Magazine Road, and to Circle Voluntary Housing Association for a further four units at Anglesea Mews on Anglesea St.

Meanwhile, Cork County Council has signed contracts for social housing schemes worth some €8.2m in Kanturk and Blarney. Work on the developments, which will include a mix of one, two, three and four bedroom houses, is due to start soon.

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