ALMOST 30 new apartments are set to be developed in the heart of Blackpool, resulting in a major new lease of life for the struggling community.
A planning application for 28 new apartments in a series of derelict and vacant buildings on Thomas Davis Street is due to be submitted by the end of the week.
The application follows proposals for some 164 housing units submitted by Cork City Council in July and August, resulting in a major boost to the city's social housing stock in the coming years.
The new development is at numbers 17 to 22 Thomas Davis Street in Blackpool.
If approved, the project will see the demolition of three derelict buildings, two partially constructed units and one dwelling.
The replacement project includes 28 new apartments, including 20 two-beds and eight one-beds, in a four and five-storey apartment building.
New pedestrian access is to be included off Thomas Davis Street, with vehicular access to be via the existing entrance to St Francis Gardens, a development currently managed by the Respond housing agency.
Fianna Fáil councillor Ken O'Flynn said the development will bring an enormous benefit to the area.
"It will kill off a lot of the dereliction in Blackpool and it will be a major starting point. We've been working on this for a long time and it's a major coup for Blackpool and it will revitalise the village," he said.
"I would hope that this would encourage private landlords to redevelop and look at the opportunities that Blackpool provides, particularly with 5,000 people working nearby in Hollyhill," he added.
Solidarity councillor Fiona Ryan hailed the news as a major boost for the village which has struggled with vacancy and dereliction in recent years.
"The village desperately needs this. It is great news," she said.
"Blackpool needs life. It needs people and it needs housing. The removal of such a substantial block of derelict and vacant sites and the addition of housing will give a total new lease of life to the area."
Some of the buildings in question have been used as an unofficial squat in recent months, according to Ms Ryan.
There was also a fire at the properties this summer, prompting fears that the redevelopment might be put on hold.
"It is good that there was no delay as a result of the blaze, but we need to move fast," Ms Ryan said.
"The longer this is idle and derelict, the more it will attract issues. The village has badly struggled in recent years and this kind of thing is the answer to those struggles."
The Solidarity councillor urged the local authority to continue targeting vacant buildings throughout Blackpool and other city areas for redevelopment.
"There is more dereliction in Blackpool that would be ideal for further development," she said.
"There is such huge demand for housing in this city, too. This development will be life-changing for 28 families and there are similar sites wasting away nearby that we could use for similar projects."
Planning applications submitted earlier this year represented a direct investment of €45 million in Cork city's housing stock.
It included plans for White St, Barrack St and Blarney St, as well as a number of other city locations.
It is understood that Thomas Davis St represents the first in the next phase of developments, with additional applications due to follow shortly.