Housing policy warning over future of towns in Cork

Cork County Council officials have been told they must change their housing policy or they will kill off communities in north-west Cork, an area known as Western Duhallow.

A plea from elected representatives has also gone out to private landlords not to evict families at Christmas.

Cllr Gerard Murphy yesterday told a meeting of the council’s Northern Division the local authority had no plans to build houses for Newmarket, Millstreet or villages in Western Duhallow in the foreseeable future and, as a result, people were relocating out of the region.

“We’ll have to readjust our priorities,” he said, “otherwise, villages and smaller towns will continue to decline.”

Cllr Murphy further claimed schools and sporting clubs in a number of parts of Western Duhallow were already under pressure to survive. “I would like a total change in emphasis on this, otherwise we will have continued depopulation of these areas,” he added.

Cllr Bernard Moynihan said matters were further compounded as it was virtually impossible for people to get planning for one-off houses in the region.

Meanwhile, divisional chairman Cllr June Murphy said she was concerned about the chronic shortage of local authority and privately-owned rental accommodation in Mitchelstown.

“I’m deeply worried about the lack of accommodation in Mitchelstown.

“A number of families in the town face eviction from properties there in the coming months. I would make an appeal to landlords not to evict families over the Christmas period.”

Cllr Murphy said she was currently in the process of trying to negotiate ‘extra time’ for some tenants, with a number of landlords.

The council’s head of housing, Maurice Manning said he was conscious of the demand and the current lack of opportunities for building in Mitchelstown.

“It is a concern and we are looking at it,” Mr Manning said. “We will attempt to deal with need as it presents itself on a case by case basis.”

Concerns were also expressed about the lack of one and two-bed homes being built or acquired by the council.

Cllr John Paul O’Shea said 75% of waiting list applicants were seeking such accommodation but were stuck in a limbo due to the absence of it. He pointed out that private developers would not build one and two-bedroom as it was not viable, so it was even more important the local authority address the situation.

Cllr Gerard Murphy pointed out it was council policy to no longer build single units. He said elderly people might need carers to stay with them and that was one of the reasons why. Also, people were entitled to have family members or friends come and stay with them.

Meanwhile, Cllr O’Shea won support from colleagues when he proposed, from now on, all local authority houses were built with downstairs bathrooms and toilets.

In the long term, he said, it would save the taxpayer as when people get older or suffer from a disability they would be entitled to seek special grants to adapt their homes as they would not be able to access bathrooms upstairs.

Mr Manning said that officials were supportive of the motion.

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