CORK county councillors have sharply criticised the lack of action to convert the landmark St Kevin’s hospital site into a prime location for housing and apartments.
The former asylum is being left idle and unused in the midst of a housing crisis despite Government plans to include the site as part of the State's new Land Development Agency.
It is expected that there will be some works done on the lands next year but the building has been idle since 2002 and councillors have argued that it is an obvious location for new homes.
The 200-year-old building near the Lee Fields was badly damaged in a fire last year.
The building is owned by the HSE, who say local authorities and other State agencies have not come forward with plans for the site.
Councillor Deirdre Forde said: “I am shocked that 14 acres of zoned land was refused by statutory agencies and local authorities, with the amount of people on our housing list and the city’s list.
“I don’t see why we couldn’t identify it as a strategic housing zone and fast track it. It could be turned into public/private apartments, offered to other agencies or shared between the city and county councils. It is such a valuable, iconic site and it is a disgrace that it is lying idle.”
While other councillors agreed it was an eyesore, concerns were raised about the potential cost of any development.
Councillor Melissa Mullane said the land should be given over to the local authorities at no cost.
“It is state land, it should just be handed to us,” she said.
“It is our job to provide public housing, and this is an ideal place to build.”
Chief executive Tim Lucey said Cork County Council had never been offered the property and said there were other housing projects in the county that should take precedence.
“We have no authority over it and it is not required for us to meet our housing targets,” he said. “We have significant other lands across the county, and empty properties, that would be better placed to house those on our housing list.
“It is a matter for the new land development agency, not us.”