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06 Jul 2022

Laois council called on to buy NAMA controlled derelict convent for enterprise hub use

Forced purchase call for 'collapsing' Laois convent

The former Presentation convent in Stradbally is derelict..

A landmark but derelict building in Stradbally that is controlled by NAMA should be purchased by Laois County Council for use as an enterprise hub.

That’s according to the Cllr Paschal McEvoy, Fianna Fáil, who made the call at a recent meeting which was attended by the council’s Director of Finance Gerry Murphy.

Cllr McEvoy tabled a motion at the Graiguecullen Portarlington Municipal District calling on the Council to make contact with the owners of the old Presentation convent in Stradbally with a view to purchasing the building and turning it into an enterprise hub and a facility to allow hot desking and remote working.

He told the meeting that the building was sold by a religious order to a private buyer who sold it on again but no development happened. He claimed it has been derelict for 15 years.

“It is now in NAMA. It is a protected structure and a fabulous building. Something needs to be done with it. It is an eyesore at the moment,” he said.

He thanked the Director of Finance for helping with other derelict buildings in the town and hoped something could be done with the convent similar to what has been achieved with the Mountrath Bloom HQ.

Ms. Angela McEvoy, Acting Director of Services in Housing and Planning,  replied in writing indicating that its potential would be explored.

“The site is on the Derelict sites register and is also a protected structure. The Planning Authority has served notice on the owner on this building requesting works to be carried out and are trying to engage with the owner in this regard.

“Consideration of its potential for economic development opportunities will be undertaken by the Business Support Unit.

Cllr McEvoy welcomed this but added that he would continue to push for work to be done.

“There must be money in Government for this type of building to be brought back into use as an enterprise hub. We have a perfect site,” he said.

He said that given it is controlled by NAMA government agency, meant that the transition could be smoother.

“I want to see it in the ownership of or leased by Laois County Council,” he said.

Cllr Aisling Moran, Fine Gael, backed the call. She suggested that some musical dimension could be added given that Stradbally is home to the Electric Picnic. She suggested that different shops could also be accommodated and it could also be a location for housing.

She wanted a timeframe put on the work required to address dereliction

Cllr PJ Kelly, Fine Gael, also supported. 

“It is a fine standout building in Stradbally with a huge history. It would be wonderful to see something done with it to bring it back to life,” he said.

Cllr Aidan Mullins, Sinn Féin, said he expected the proposal would have full backing from all councillors.

“A building like that could be a major asset to Stradbally and surrounding areas,” he said.

He added that it is good news that NAMA controls the building because they may be willing to dispose of it.

Mr Murphy explained that the site would remain on the derelict register until it was no longer derelict. He said various notices could be served with works listed and timeframes and deadlines are given. He said it may not be realistic to have the dereliction addressed within six months.

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