Up to 1,300 social housing units are set to delivered in Cork City in the coming months under a fast-track approach to address the city’s social housing demand.
Housing Minister Simon Coveney confirmed yesterday that more than 400 homes will be under construction by May on 18 sites across the city as part of a €97m investment in social housing, with the rest provided through a combination of measures, including house purchases, social leasing, restoration of vacant houses, and through partnerships with housing bodies such as Respond! and Cluid.
He described it as one of the most significant impacts on housing provision in the city for over a decade.
“It’s a big programme of work,” said Mr Coveney. “It’s badly needed because there are a lot of people on housing lists and there are a lot of families under pressure that need support from the state.
“I’m delighted to see this level of progress, particularly in my own city. The city council has made huge strides and shown the urgency that I asked of them. We want more of this.”
Mr Coveney confirmed that a repair and leasing scheme — where the State funds repairs of private property which is then made available for social housing — that has been piloted in Waterford and Carlow is set to be rolled out nationally in a few weeks.
He was speaking at the launch of a new social housing estate at Sheridan Park, on Tramore Rd on Cork’s southside, which will provide homes for 28 families.
He praised the council’s housing directorate for reducing the rate of council house vacancy from around 3% to below 1%, but said he would like to see faster turn-around times for repairing boarded-up council homes.
It also emerged yesterday that the city council has bought 131 housing units to meet social housing needs, while a further 840 vacant houses have been returned to use in the past two years.
A total of 150 units were provided by approved housing bodies during the same period. In addition, 361 units will be delivered with the housing bodies by late 2018 or early 2019.
A planning decision on 153 units for a mixed tenure scheme, including private and social housing at Boherboy Rd, is due by the end of the month.
Later, Mr Coveney turned the sod on a social housing project in Deanrock before launching a reconstruction project which will see 10 new homes for older people provided in Dublin St, Blackpool, by Respond!
The €2.15m project will see five one-bed and five two-bed homes built by January.
Respond! said it is the first phase of a three-year regeneration project in this part of the city, which will see 240 social housing units added to the city’s housing stock.
Lord Mayor of Cork, Des Cahill, said it was a long time since the city council had been in a position to add to its housing stock.
“These homes and the hundreds of others either under construction, purchased, repaired, or in planning are a tangible example of what the council’s housing directorate can do, and how quickly it can do it, when funding and autonomy become available,” he said.
Council chief executive Ann Doherty said much of the impetus for the delivery of this raft of social housing arises from the intensive and creative use of the EU Competitive Dialogue Procedure.
“That EU procedure allowed us to bring together developers, landowners, and builders in a transparent way to identify potential sites and to suggest collaborations to achieve significant results,” she said.
“This allowed us to identify sites which previously might not have been considered and to progress social housing in very sustainable locations where there is heavy demand.”
New home and new start for family
A young mother who has been on a housing waiting list for almost a decade said she is looking forward to a fresh start after finally securing a home of her own.
Mother of two Jenna Foley yesterday received the keys to one of the new homes in Sheridan Park — the recently completed social housing estate launched yesterday in Togher, on the southside of Cork city.
Ms Foley and her daughters, Chloe, five, and Kaylee, eight, hope to move into their three-bed terraced home within days.
A further 27 families are set to move in soon afterwards.
“It will be a new start, it just feels like things are just going right for us at last,” said Ms Foley.
Built on the site of the former Fitzgerald’s Bakery on Tramore Rd, the site lay derelict for several years until it was developed for housing by Citidwell Homes Ltd.
The estate features a mix of three-bed terraced homes, three-bed duplexes and two-bed apartments. The homes are A-rated, each have underfloor heating, and each feature an air-to-water heating system, which means no gas or oil home-heating bills.
The heating is powered by a unique air-conditioning style unit in the back garden which sucks in air to power the heating system.
The estate also, as a condition of planning, features a public charging point for electric vehicles which was installed to encourage sustainable and green transport choices.
The city council bought the estate for some €7.5m last year — a unit cost of almost €270,000 — to provide homes for people on its social housing list. All the homes have now been allocated to people on the city’s housing list.
Ms Foley has been renting a house in Ballyphehane for the last four-and-a-half-years, and was moving between other rented accommodation in the years before.
However, she said she and her family will finally be able to put down roots in Sheridan Park.
“It’s surreal,” she said. “It’s just amazing really. The houses are amazing. And my daughter will be able to walk to school when she’s older.”
The estate is opposite Togher Garda Station, a few hundred yards off the South City Link Road and is close to the UCC shuttle bus service.
Cork City Council plans to build or deliver 437 social homes at the following locations:
- Sheridan Park, Tramore Rd, 28 units (turnkey acquisition — completed)
- Deanrock, Togher, 66 units (under construction)
- Gerald Griffin St, 42 units (enabling works completed)
- Church Rd, Blackrock, 43 units, Ard Aoibhinn, Mayfield, five units, and Corcoran’s Quay, three units (all approval to proceed to construction)
- Skehard Rd, 30 units
- White St, 46 units; Blarney St, 25 units
- High St, 10 units
- Tramore Rd, four units
- Barrack St, 32 units
- Wood St, 16 units
- Farranree, five units (all approval to proceed to planning, tender stages)
- Dublin St, 10 units (Respond! Housing Authority — under construction)
- Blackpool, 18 units (Respond! Housing Association)
- Leitrim St, 18 units (Cluid Housing Association)
- Pope’s Rd, seven units (Cluid Housing Association)
- Knocknaheeny Regeneration 29 units (under construction)