Cork County Council to clamp down on derelict site owners

Cork County Council has threatened legal proceedings against derelict site owners who fail to comply with a notice to enhance properties.

So far, warnings have been issued to owners of alleged eyesore sites in Youghal. Council official Helen Mulcahy advised councillors that notices were served on owners of three sites, but up to 25 other cases are pending across the East Cork Municipal District region, which encompasses the Midleton-Youghal area.

She named the Youghal sites as the former Seafield Textiles factory in the Strand, the former Hilltop Hotel, also at the Strand, and Indian Point on the eastern approach.

Notices have been served on 10 parties who comprise Seafield Partnership Ltd, and on the London-based CJ O’Shea Group, which is connected with the hotel, along with the receivers responsible for Indian Point.

Ms Mulcahy said that recipients had 30 days to comply with a list of requirements or face being placed on a derelict site register. This would lead an annual levy registered against a site that is accruable by the local authority upon being sold.

She said the O’Shea Group quickly agreed to address the problems. Indian Point was found to be technically overgrown rather than derelict but the receivers had agreed to tidy it. However, with just days remaining to a deadline, Seafield Partnership had yet to respond.

The municipal district chairwoman, Independent councillor Mary Linehan-Foley, said the sites compromised the town’s tourism industry and undermined the work of voluntary groups such as the Tidy Towns’ committee.

She said that both the Hilltop and Seafield building were being regularly set on fire, with nearby residents forced to evacuate from their homes as smoke billowed across the Seafield building’s asbestos roof.

Seafield Partnership, meanwhile, has had two planning permissions for a retail development overturned by Bord Pleanála.

Ms Linehan-Foley said the public was being subjected to a major eyesore at the Strand. She felt demolition was the best option for Seafield.

The municipal district’s chief officer, Joe McCarthy said the council would prefer to avoid legal proceedings but matters would shortly enter an “enforcement and prosecution phase”.

Meanwhile, Ms Mulcahy said acquiring proof of ownership was painstaking but her office was making progress in land registry searches on 25 properties, on Youghal’s main street and with some in Castlemartyr and Midleton. She said warning notices would follow.


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