City Hall outlines its position on fire-damaged Vernon Mount House

City Hall outlines its position on fire-damaged Vernon Mount House
City Hall is developing a plan for Vernon Mount HousePic; Larry Cummins

CITY HALL is developing a plan for Vernon Mount House, but will not consider a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on the historic building in the near future.

The 18th-century neo-classical structure at Frankfield in Douglas was burned down in 2016, three years after Cork County Council carried out works to repair the roof at a cost of €170,000.

The building is in foreign private ownership since the mid-90s. The city council inherited the area which the house is located on in May’s city boundary extension.

Fire crews tackling the blaze at Vernon Mount in 2016. 
Fire crews tackling the blaze at Vernon Mount in 2016. 

The site had been slated for development but has been effectively abandoned following a failed planning application.

In August 2016 the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs sent senior advisors, Martin Colreavy and Dr Freddie Dwyer to inspect the ruins. They recommended that steps be taken to preserve the house for its historic and unique architectural value.

In September 2017, Cllr Marcia Dalton submitted a motion to Cork County Council proposing that Vernon Mount House be compulsorily purchased and that steps be taken to recover €170,000 from the owner in respect of the 2012 roof refurbishments.

Cork County Council deferred a decision as it was awaiting an inspection report by conservation engineer David Kelly. The report was received in October 2017.

In March 2018, Mr Kelly’s report was presented to the Historic Monuments Advisory Committee, which unanimously recommended that the stabilisation works on Vernon Mount House be implemented.

Cllr Shane O’Callaghan asked the council to consider enacting a CPO, saying the site has become a magnet for anti-social behaviour.

The Vernon Mount blaze
The Vernon Mount blaze

However, City Hall director of planning Fearghal Reidy said meetings will take place on possible solutions for the site soon.

“The strategy in relation to Vernon Mount is currently under review,” said Mr Reidy.

“A meeting is scheduled with the local voluntary group to identify solutions to advance the project. Further updates will be available in due course as the project progresses.

“Any CPO would have to go through a property business plan and we need to establish all the details before we proceed.”

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