A FORMER city hospital is being considered for a cost rental housing scheme, it has been revealed.
St Kevin’s in Sunday’s Well was recently acquired by the Land Development Agency (LDA), and local residents have been promised a meeting in the next few months to discuss proposals for the site.
The Echo understands that a team appointed by the LDA has been advancing proposals for a planning application to be lodged in the near future and it is likely this will involve a cost rental element.
This site is believed to be earmarked as being potentially viable for cost rental homes as part of a wider national scheme where rent will be based on construction costs and maintenance rather than private market rent rates.
The iconic red-brick St Kevin’s Hospital, overlooking Lee Road on a 14-acre site, is in the ownership of the LDA after it was put up for sale by the HSE for €2.95m.
The Green Party and Solidarity councillor Fiona Ryan have been vocal in their support for developing the cost rental model of housing in Cork. The model is used in some European countries as a way to keep rents at affordable levels, while also providing competition for the private market.
The Department of Housing has established a working group to develop a national policy on cost rental housing.
In May 2019, the Department signed an agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) to officially engage them to undertake a research project into cost rental. City Hall housing director of housing Brian Geaney said the council is willing to support any Government initiatives on cost rental and has been exploring opportunities for the model as part of its wider programme of housing delivery and supports across the city.
“[The housing directorate] will engage proactively with the [Department of Housing] and its working group and also consider the EIB’s research project findings,” he said. “It will actively consider inclusion of cost rental tenure solutions in project opportunities as they proceed, bearing in mind that these require a substantial and different funding regime.
“Cost rental, as a complementary arrangement to existing housing solutions, will take time to develop, funding to get started and continued political and popular support to grow and be sustained.”
Green Party councillor Oliver Moran said a national framework on cost rental needs to be developed as soon as possible with rent rates in Cork rising monthly.
“This can’t happen soon enough,” Mr Moran said. “The market has failed young families. Average rent in the city is now €1,372 per month and continues to rise by over 5% each year,
“The average house price is beyond the ability of young couples to pay. Now, even middle income earners in full-time work are priced out of the market and experiencing the pressures homelessness.”
“We need the state to intervene with public housing to drive down prices and bring stability and quality to the market. It means bringing in new ideas from other countries like cost rental to disrupt the market and bring common sense back into it.
“Rent pressure zones are plainly not working. Time and time again, what I am seeing is people being evicted under the guise of renovations or other reasons when the aim is clearly to raise rents,” Mr Moran added.