Raze the houses at Hepburn Court Portlaoise and start again from scratch.
That was the proposal made at the recent meeting of the Portlaoise Municipal District, during a discussion on the “dreadful eyesore” that is this beleaguered Portlaoise estate.
At the meeting in County Hall, Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley proposed a motion calling for an update on how many properties Laois County Council owns in Hepburn Court and an update on the future plans for the site including the squash club and the Kingdom Hall.
She received a written response from Mr Ian McCormack, housing, saying that five units have been purchased, whilst two are in conveyancing.
Kingdom Hall is also in conveyancing, while an offer has been made to purchase the squash club. It would be the council’s intention to purchase the remaining properties in Hepburn Court, said Mr McCormack.
Cllr Dwane Stanley pointed out that there were 12 houses in total, five of which were now in council ownership with a further two in conveyancing.
“The site looks dreadful, it’s a dreadful eyesore,” she said.
Welcoming the news that the Kingdom Hall was in conveyancing, she said she was a little bit concerned about the squash club, which needed to be finished off.
She asked what was delaying the ownership of the other units, suggesting that CPOs should be used if the council was not getting cooperation from the current owners.
Director of services, Mr Kieran Kehoe said that Hepburn Court was a priority area for the council and all the empty units had so far been purchased by agreement.
Cllr Willie Aird asked was it the intention to build new houses at this location, to which Mr Kehoe replied that the intention was to purchase the site and then have discussions as to what to do next.
Cllr Aird said he would love to see a timeframe on this, adding: “It is dangerous, it’s a total black spot in Portlaoise, it’s taken so much from the area. It’s not fair on the residents, who have to look at this 24/7.”
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald agreed it was an awful looking site, but at least the council had now moved in.
“We have to do something for the residents, we seem to be at a stalemate now. I would love to see all the houses demolished and then start again,” she said.
One of the houses in Hepburn Court, which were built in 2004, appeared in an internet property ad alert last week as being still for sale.
It is one the market for €20,000.