600 houses for Old Whitechurch Road

600 houses for Old Whitechurch Road

CITY Hall is set to take a major step forward in revamping its biggest landbank for housing use.

However, councillors have been told that it could take as long as three years before people can actually live on the 22-hectare Old Whitechurch Road site.

The area is earmarked for 600 houses. These are expected to be developed in conjunction with the private market and be comprised largely of affordable housing units.

The site has long been viewed as a crucial component of the long-term housing strategy in the city, representing the biggest single site available for development outside the docklands.

A planning document is set to be presented to councillors at Monday's meeting of Cork City Council. The document maps out a series of essential works needed to make the site ready for construction, including enabling works like removing overhead cables.

Power lines and other cables could be moved underground as part of the works, which also include provisions for a 1km road and entrances on the Old Mallow Road and on Whitechurch Road.

€9.8 million was made available in government funding to make the site construction-ready under the government's Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF). It also includes provisions for spine access routes and utility access, including gas and water.

Meetings are due to take place with local residents in the coming weeks to discuss the plans, which were presented to councillors at City Hall this week.

Sinn Féin's Thomas Gould said that the works are welcomed as the site is a key component in the future housing development in Cork city.

However, Mr Gould hit out at the lengthy timetable associated with the overall project.

"It is high time we drove ahead with it," he said.

"This infrastructure is the key to opening up the site. But, we were told that at the earliest, those houses are still three years off.

That is 2021, which is too long to wait for those houses.

"Sinn Féin tabled motions calling for this site to be used for housing in 2011 - ten years before they are likely to be ready.

"We have no procurement, no plan. These works were needed years ago and we are still far off them being finished."

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