Cork Simon seeks planning for 78 apartments to ease homeless crisis

Homeless charity wants to demolish existing warehouse buildings to construt long-term homes
Cork Simon seeks planning for 78 apartments to ease homeless crisis

Cork Simon's 78 apartments would not be emergency accommodation, or a homeless shelter, but would be long-term homes.

Cork Simon Community has sought planning permission for 78 apartments in the city centre as long-term homes, according to recently filed documents.

The homeless charity wants to demolish the existing warehouse buildings at the corner of Alfred Street and Railway Street and construct a residential apartment building.

The proposed development, which would incorporate the existing former turbine house, will range in height from between one and 10 storeys, and will consist of six two-bedroom apartments, 43 one-bedroom apartments, and 29 large studio apartments.

The proposed ground floor will consist of a reception area, communal area, concierge desk and security office, kitchen, staff welfare facilities, meeting room, cafe/retail unit and a secure bicycle parking area.

The ancillary site works would include the provision of communal open space roof terraces at first and seventh floor levels, residents lounge at first floor level, landscaping, ESB substation, a generator room, an LV room, sprinkler tank room, water meter room, comms room and storage.

Long-term homes

If approved, the apartments would not be emergency accommodation, or a homeless shelter, but would be long-term homes.

The apartments would also be predominantly for single households to compensate for a widespread shortage of affordable one-bed apartments across the country.

The Irish Examiner understands that a minority of the apartments would be for those exiting homelessness, with the majority being for individuals with a housing need, to prevent them from entering homelessness.

The pre-planning advice on the application states the bulk and scale of the proposed development would need to be “justified”, given the structure will be higher than recently permitted developments in the vicinity.

The visual impact of the development is a "key consideration", the advice added.

The conservation officer also raised concerns about the scale and massing of the development, in regard to its relationship with the former turbine house, which is not a protected site but is noted as having regional significance by the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The application was received by Cork City Council on April 9, and a decision is due by June 3.

Emergency accommodation 

The most recent figures from the Department of Housing, from February, showed 8,238 men, women and children were in emergency accommodation nationally during the week of 22 to 28 February 2021.

The rising number of homeless single adults, in particular, has been a concern for NGOs nationwide, and a situation which they attribute to the private rental market.

In Cork, 408 homeless people were accessing emergency accommodation, an increase of 1% since January 2021.

The latest rental report found that the asking rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Cork City is €1,099, almost double the housing assistance payment (HAP) limit for a single person.

The Simon Communities in Ireland’s latest Locked Out of the Market study, published in November, found that over three consecutive dates in September, no properties were available to rent in Cork City under standard or discretionary HAP limits for a single person.

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