Council to demolish burnt out houses

The Sadness of Hepburn Court: Laois County Council contractors blocking up access to some of the surviving structures of what were once dream homes at Hepburn Court, Ballyfin Rd., Portlaoise.
Derelict houses in Portlaoise’s Hepburn Court have been sealed up by Laois County Council in an attempt to curb the high level of anti-social behaviour in the estate.

Derelict houses in Portlaoise’s Hepburn Court have been sealed up by Laois County Council in an attempt to curb the high level of anti-social behaviour in the estate.

Four of the eight derelict properties in the 12-house estate were blocked off by workmen, and town manager, Mr Michael Rainey has revealed that all of the houses are beyond repair.

Speaking at both last week’s town council meeting and the meeting of the Joint Policing Committee, Mr Rainey said that many of the derelict houses have been burnt out and will have to be demolished.

None of the houses belong to the County Council and Mr Rainey said that the council had received little cooperation from the owners or lenders of the properties.

“In my view, these houses are now derelict beyond repair. The planning section have made big efforts through the legislation to get something done,” he said.

“Four of the properties have now gone through the process and we are going to carry out remedial work to secure the sites.

“A number of others need to be demolished,” he continued,” they’re burnt out in most cases.”

Mr Rainey said that the current derelict site legislation is weak, meaning it will be “a long, slow road” to resolution. He said that he is continuing to meet with residents groups and the gardaí to tackle the problem.

“If families down there are getting their property damaged they should tell the gardaí,” he said. “We don’t want to demolish houses, but we may have to.”

Speaking at the Joint Policing Committee meeting, Superintendent Yvonne Lundon said that a multi-agency approach was needed to address the problems in Hepburn Court.

“We are taking this from a different angle. There is a limit to what any one agency can do on their own,” she said.

The superintendent went on to say it was a “complex legal process”, but they were moving in the right direction.