The former Presentation Convent in Portlaoise
The first stage in turning a derelict Portlaoise convent into community housing will get underway this summer.
Enabling works are expected to start this summer 2021. These will include demolition of some prefab buildings, clearing of the site and making it safe for workers undertaking the next stage, construction of apartment blocks and renovation of the convent.
The latest update on the project was given at the March meeting of Portlaoise Municipal District by Laois County Council.
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald had sought the update, tabling a motion about the convent and also the CBS site.
Both projects are in Portlaoise town centre and both are aimed at creating sustainable homes mainly for single or older people, close to public transport and eliminating reliance on cars, while eliminating dereliction in the town centre.
“The Part 8 Planning submission for this project was approved by Laois County Council in 2020 and the Stage 2 Capital Assistance Scheme funding application has now been approved by Department of Housing.
“Site investigations and surveying are reaching completion onsite and the project is currently at detailed design stage. An enabling works contract is expected to commence onsite in the Summer and approval to proceed to tender for the main construction contract will be sought following its completion,” Laois County Council stated.
Meanwhile they say that funding will be applied for later this year by the Clúid housing association to build the CBS homes which are at detailed design stage.
“These two projects are essential for Portlaoise. People badly need these homes but it will also be part of the regeneration of the town,” said Cllr Fitzgerald.
“I am anxious that these get going. There is a huge waiting list, people are very anxious to get homes, especially these one and two bedroom homes,” she said.
The convent project will see the iconic building and its surrounding lands and buildings converted into 52 apartments, community spaces and public and private gardens, largely for older residents.
Sophia Housing Association Ltd and Co-operative Housing Ireland are developing the site. It was approved for €10.06 million government funding in July 2018. It will house Laois County Council tenants.
Below: artist's impression of the Portlaoise Convent housing scheme