Council acts on vacant premises in Douglas

Council acts on vacant premises in Douglas
County Councillors Mary Rose Desmond and Seamus McGrath look over the vacant premises in Douglas.Pic; Larry Cummins.

CORK County Council is now actively trying to engage with the owners of vacant premises in the heart of Douglas village following calls to tackle the issue.

County Councillors Mary Rose Desmond and Seamus McGrath look over the vacant premises in Douglas.Pic; Larry Cummins.
County Councillors Mary Rose Desmond and Seamus McGrath look over the vacant premises in Douglas.Pic; Larry Cummins.

Councillors Mary Rose Desmond and Seamus McGrath (FF) met with council officials in May to seek a progress report on the Douglas Land Use Transportation Study (DLUTS) — part of a 2013 masterplan to ensure a vibrant urban centre with a more efficient transport network for Douglas, an improved public realm, reduced congestion and a higher quality of life for locals.

However, there is a 20% vacancy rate in the main village — a figure in line with the highest commercial vacancy rates in the county and above the average vacancy rate of 11.8% across the county.

County Hall senior executive planner Pio Condon said the council has now identified a number of properties in the village and had made contact with some owners to discuss how the buildings can be returned to use.

“There are a number of visible properties within Douglas which are currently unoccupied and we have undertaken to follow up with those properties to see if there are interventions that could facilitate the reuse of those properties. We have made contact with all but two,” he said.

“There are four primary properties in Douglas East and we have spoken to two of the property owners. One we are hoping to meet and another has recently changed hands and we are looking for contact details for the purchase.”

Mr Condon said planners have met with the development team that looks after the Douglas area and also the architect’s department to look at interventions that may assist in the improvement of the urban realm in the area.

Mr McGrath said he is happy the council has decided to engage with property owners to find a solution in the village which has seen a number of shopping and retail centres spring up in recent years. “I think it is positive that we are getting out there on the ground and actively engaging with property owners,” he said.

“There are major challenges and quite specific reasons why there are certain properties vacant. Douglas is a critical area and we certainly want to see it develop and progress as the vibrant community that it should be.

“The level of dereliction in the village is something that could not be sustained. It’s important that we keep the momentum going and talk to property owners and engage on the issues,” he added.

Ms Desmond added: “This seems positive and I’m delighted the architect’s department of Cork County Council is now involved”.

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