Presentation Convent Portarlington is centre to the housing plan
No homes in a landmark social housing development in Portarlington will go to residents living in the more populated part of the Laois Offaly border town.
Sophia Housing has drawn up plans to develop the Presentation Convent Primary School on Patrick Street and land attached for houses, apartments and community facilites. The property has been in the ownership of the Presentation Sisters and Portararlington Parish.
The voluntary housing agency has drawn up a planning application for 39 houses and apartments on the site which is in Co Offaly.
While Offaly County Council will assess the planning application, the local authority will also benefit from the project as all the homes will go to people on its social housing waiting list.
Sophia's Project manager confirmed this in a statement to the Leinster Express.
"All nominations for our project in Portarlington will come for the Offaly housing list. We are delighted to be working with the Local Authority in Offaly on this much-needed project," said Mr Joe McEvoy.
It is not clear if any discussions took place with Laois County Council to share the homes between the two council's waiting lists.
Offaly County Council has yet to confirm if those getting the houses are on its waiting list for the Portarlington area.
However, a senior official at County Hall in Portlaoise confirmed that it has not been involved in the project to this point.
"Laois County Council are not involved in these developments at this time. The developments are in the administrative area of Offaly County Council," said Mr Joe Delaney, Director of Services for Housing at Laois County Council.
The situation so far contrasts with two developments in Graiguecullen on the Laois Carlow border. The houses are being built in Laois but a majority of new homes are going to people on Carlow County Council's waiting list.
The Minister for Housing is understood to have intervened directed the allocation of houses.
Cllr Aidan Mullins is the only Laois County councillor based in the Laois Offaly border town. The Sinn Féin representative called for a similar approach to be adopted in Portarlington as was taken in Graigucullen.
"There should be close liaison between the Housing Departments of both Offaly and Laois local authorities on the allocation of the units.
"If Offaly County Council doesn't have sufficient applicants on their waiting list with a preference for Portarlington then people on the list on the Laois side should also be considered.
"This type of arrangement is already in place in Graiguecullen between Laois and Carlow Councils and there is no reason it should not happen here. There is a high demand in Portarlington for social housing and the county boundary should not be an obstacle in addressing the problem," he said.
Other Laois councillors in the Portarlington Graiguecullen Municipal District have lobbied strongly for more Laois people to get houses in the Carlow Laois developments.
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