‘Half full half empty’ view of a report on ambitious Portlaoise development led by Laois council

Housing: Council gives update on Stradbally Road lands

Pat Somers

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Pat Somers

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The boundary wall of Tyrell's property part of which was purchased by Laois County Council and for which a masterplan is being developed.

A pilot scheme incorporating social, cost rental and affordable to purchase housing should be instituted for land that the Council bought on the Stradbally road, Cllr Caroline Dwane-Stanley stated at the Portlaoise Municipal District meeting.

Cllr Dwane Stanley was speaking on her own motion calling for such a scheme in the development of Tyrrells land.

The Council response provided an update on the development to date.

"The council completed the purchase of 25.73 acres of land on the Stradbally road earlier this year. The cost of purchase, funded by a loan, was €1.4million.

"Since then a multi-disciplinary team has been procured to prepare a masterplan for the lands. They are currently carrying out preliminary investigations and assessments. Once completed consultation with key stakeholders will commence in the new year. The land has a mixture of residential, community type and open space zonings.

"The Council's primary objective in purchasing this landbank was to deliver additional housing for those who could not fund it from their own resources. In that regard it will explore all viable options for the delivery of such housing including social, affordable and cost rental on these lands.

"However, it should be noted that in the absence of a national subsidy/scheme the Council does not have the financial capacity of its own to deliver an affordable scheme."

Cllr Dwane-Stanley labelled the response as "a glass half full, half empty type answer."

"There is a need for more social housing and affordable housing to purchase. I'd like to see Laois County Council leading from the front on this and being an example to other Councils" said the Sinn Féin representative.

"A young couple with one child cannot get on the social housing ladder. We need to offer some kind of hope here. Those in private rented accommodation are being fleeced, with no security of tenure. I have called for cost rental. It's cheap affordable accommodation to rent with security of tenure. It allows the tenant to rent for the rest of their lives.

"We are leasing the building of homes to other bodies. I believe Laois County Council has to build itself. Use 10 per cent of this for social housing," stated the county coucillor.

Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald said it was "soul destroying" that the income threshold was so low for social housing.

"It discriminates against middle and low incomes. It is 100 per cent wrong for hard working people," stated the Fianna Fáil representative.

Cllr Thomasina Connell noted that Minister for State Peter Burke had said there will be a scheme to facilitate affordable housing across Ireland.

"Affordable housing to purchase is in it, is my understanding," said the Fine Gael councillor.

"We have to get on and build," said Cllr Willie Aird.

"No estate has been opened since Conniberry Way. Each Councillor has to look at themselves."

Director of Services, Simon Walton said that a masterplan for Tyrrells land is being developed.

"There are other zonings here which need to be factored in. The masterplan is at stage one," he stated.

"As regards an affordable scheme, Laois County Council wants to engage with an affordable housing scheme. Laois County Council cannot fund it, only through the State."

Mr Walton referred to the CEO's report as to the number of houses delivered directly by Laois County Council.

He also noted that a number of housing bodies were building under contract with the Council.

"They are equally as reliant on the Council," he pointed out to the December meeting.