03 Oct 2022

Laois town getting 16 council homes but 400 on waiting list

Laois town getting 16 council homes but 400 on waiting list

The new council homes under construction in Mountmellick. Photo: Lynda Kiernan

A Laois town is getting 16 new council houses over the next year, but over 400 people on the waiting list will be hoping to be the lucky ones chosen for keys.

Mountmellick has two Laois County Council building sites now underway.

Ten houses at the rear of Pattison's Estate, pictured, are scheduled to be ready for occupants by the end of June. Meanwhile another six homes are about to start construction at Harbour Court.

It falls far short in proportion to other Laois towns. 

Mountmellick has a population of some 5,000 people. Portarlington with twice the population is getting 66 new council homes. Portlaoise with about five times the population of Mountmellick has 17 times as many new houses under construction for council tenants, with 287 being built, and 100 more in planning stage. 

Cllr Paddy Bracken from the Mountmellick Borris-in-Ossory District says that tenants have not yet been chosen for the new schemes.

"There is huge demand here, not just for social housing but for affordable homes. The problem is the income threshold is too low, people can't qualify for a social house but they can't qualify for a mortgage either. There is a new Government scheme underway with details being finalised," he said.

Laois County Council said they own "very limited land" in the town.

Angela McEvoy is Director of Services for Housing.

"The Council in its own right has very limited Land bank in Mountmellick and we continue in our efforts to maximise all opportunities both to acquire appropriately zoned land and support Approved Housing Bodies where opportunities in Mountmeliick arise and are considered appropriate.

Privately built estates will provide a percentage of social housing in the coming years.

"There are a number of planning permissions granted for housing in various locations in Mountmellick – totaling approximately 100 units which would bring a balance of private, social and affordable housing to Mountmellick if commenced. These sites are in private ownership and the developer has 5 years to commence and carry out the permissions," Ms McEvoy said.

Cllr Bracken said this won't be enough.

"It still won't meet the need. They should be building more in the town. Over 400 people on the waiting list want to live in Mountmellick. This scheme at Pattison's Estate is the first one in years. There is huge demand, I'd say the population is near to 6,000 now," he said. 

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