Glebe House courtyard development is a square deal

Tommy Barker profiles a niche scheme of eight two-bed homes being aimed at retirees.

THREE goes into two quite comfortably at Glebe House Gardens, a West Cork niche house scheme launched last week to a local stir. It has two-bed homes which are the size of most new three-bed semis and townhouses, at 1,000 to 1,100 sq ft.

The architect-designed, unapologetically contemporary styled eight two-bed houses are behind Clonakilty town's period Georgian Emmet Square. They caused a stir too for their price level: the guide was €375,000-plus for the first release, but the very first buyer paid €390,000 to secure one house prior to official launch.

Given the small numbers built, and that only five were being primed for open sale, the likelihood is that at least some of the others will sell for more than this sum.

It comes down to quality, and exclusivity.

The address is special, just off the protected Emmet Square, now with the statue of Michael Collins in the diagonally opposite corner.

In contrast, the video-cam security-controlled access to the Glebe's garden scheme means that the single and the elderly will feel safe in their homes here at night.

The selling agents say early feedback is that viewers are wowed by the show house and woo-ed by the cobble paths, extensive landscaping and sense of privacy.

This is created despite the proximity of the eight units to one another, as the deep box bays, in treated cedar sheeting, seem to break up the facades and give shelter to the doorways too, while yielding up good private balconies overhead off the large master bedrooms.

Developers Hillback pitched the product for a select buying cohort, and estate agent Henry O'Leary of the Property Partners network feels that at least several buyers will be retirees, looking for comfort, quality, security, capital appreciation and an easy to keep property.

Glebe House Gardens suits this niche, or the busy single or couple set too, and pandering to this even further is the fact that the houses are painted, fully tiled, floored with quality tiling and plush plain carpets (is wood going out of fashion just a bit?).

Each has differently-styled kitchens (with appliances) and layouts vary for individuality's sake, so buyers might have to think a bit harder about which house to opt for.

"All you have to bring is your free-standing furniture," notes Henry O'Leary, who has virtual tours of the showhouse by Swedish-born Maria Hilliard up on his website.

Builder is Bobby Hilliard and crew, who almost three years ago bought Glebe House when it was in a poor state of repair - and as a bit of a gamble as its acre-plus rear gardens were land-locked.

He and partner Micheal Ó Crualoai bought the side garden from a house just west of the square for car access to the garden, also got pedestrian access, via a quaint private lane, to the gardens, and bingo!

Now, he has restored the original Glebe House as a six bed, luxurious e1 million-plus townhouse, its unwieldy annexe made for two more bespoke townhouses, and plans for 18 contemporary apartments at the western end of the site are currently with An Bord Pleanala.

The garden townhouses, designed by Geraldine Coughlan of Richard Rainey architects in Kinsale, are finished to a T, and have monopitch zinc sheeted roofs, oil heating, high insulation levels, kitchen/dining room, high-ceilinged sitting room, ground floor bedroom and bathroom, and first floor master bedroom with bathroom, tough some buyers might actually choose to sleep downstairs and to keep the large first floor room as an open living space with elevated balcony.

The houses all have private rear patios, while in front, in communal splendour, an old myrtle tree from New Zealand, a long-time occupant of the Glebe's original overgrown gardens, is in pride of place.

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