A county councillor in Cork has claimed the local authority “could do more” to tackle the current housing crisis, by building on its own existing housing-zoned landbanks of nearly 130 acres.
Cllr Des O’Grady had sought a written report from Cork County Council on the amount of vacant land it owned and which was already zoned for housing.
He did not receive the information requested as the council’s chief executive Tim Lucey said he was reluctant to release it due to “commercial sensitivity”.
But Cllr O’Grady, Sinn Féin leader in Cork’s County Hall, was able to list off 13 sites which were zoned, but had not yet been developed.
He had secured the information from the Department of Environment, as the council had previously submitted it.
The largest single site not developed is 20.83 acres at Rathgoggin North in Charleville.
The second consists of 17.29 acres in the north Cork village of Kiskeam.
In West Cork, sites in Clonakilty are available at Tawnies and nearby Ring village totalling 13.82 acres and 9.13 acres respectively.
There are sites at Dunmanway (12.59 acres), Ballydehob (7.41), Castletownbere (5.92), Glengarriff (7.41), Coachford (5.18) Ardfield (2.47) and Leap (2.22).
Meanwhile, Millstreet and Mallow have suitable sites for housing — around 13 acres in each town.
Cllr O’Grady described it as “extraordinary” that he couldn’t get this information at a public meeting and said at least 1,500 houses could be built on all these sites.
The councillor was, however, provided with a list of projects which are under way.
The council is designing schemes for up to 65 homes in Ballincollig, 42 in Macroom and a number of smaller projects in Kanturk, Mitchelstown, Blarney and Skibbereen.
Plans are at a slightly more advanced stage at Kilnagleary, Carrigaline for 49 homes, 51 at Beechgrove, Clonakilty, seven at Masseytown, Macroom and an additional 10 at Oliver Plunkett Hill, Fermoy. Cllr O’Grady was critical in the case of the Fermoy development, pointing out the former town council had purchased the Oliver Plunkett Hill site 26 years ago.
Mr Lucey defended the council’s progress on building houses, saying the local authority had, last year, done more than it had been asked for by the Department of Environment.
Mary Ryan, the council’s director of housing, said the construction programme for Social Housing would take “some time to ramp up”.
She said last year the council concentrated on buying new homes from developers, purchasing on the private market for second-hand houses and concentrating on doing up vacant houses in its own stock.
A report circulated to councillors showed 43 houses were either purchased or constructed by the council.
The local authority leased 168 properties and was able to re-let 229 houses from its own stock after they were done up to a standard where they could be allocated to new tenants.
The council’s chief executive said, over the next three years, he hopes the local authority will be in a position to provide 1,217 houses for people on the waiting list.
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