A fire in Hepburn Court, the estate is now derelict
A major stumbling block to building the next council housing estate in Portlaoise is no more.
Compulsory Purchase Orders have been approved by An Bord Pleanála to Laois County Council, for the forced purchase of the last three houses in Hepburn Court estate.
It means the council will soon own all 12 houses in the derelict estate on the Ballyfin road, also now owning the old squash court and meeting hall beside it.
It intends to demolish most of the buildings, making a 3 acre site combined with the adjoining field, for a new council estate. It has been listed as the next priority for social housing in the town.
Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley has welcomed the decision.
"It is great news, this has been a long process, it feels like it's gone on forever. I have been told this is a top priority by the council's housing officers, along with O'Moore Place. Hopefully we will be looking at a tendering process for demolition and construction this year. Not all the houses need to be demolished. There have been huge anti-social problems with the field behind it. People living on the Ballyfin Road, Hillview Drive and Mountain View want these houses build which we believe would bring an end to these problems," she said.
Hepburn Court was an architect designed estate of 12 houses built by a private developer in 2004 and sold mostly to investors who rented out the houses. It became a centre for crime and vandalism.
The fire service was called to the estate seven days in a row at one point during 2013, as derelict houses were set on fire. After that all 12 houses were abandoned, and the council moved in to block up the estate in 2013.