Council must make housing accessible to all

Council must make housing accessible to all
Cork County Hall. Pic: Denis Scannell

CORK County Council will ask the Department of Housing to ensure that 15% of all new social housing schemes are fully accessible for people with disabilities.

Councillor John Paul O’Shea (IND) brought a motion before the Council requesting changes be made to the social housing design brief to make homes accessible during the initial building phase rather than spending thousands on adaptations later on.

“This local authority is going to go into a phase of significant construction which is extremely welcome but at the same time, we are working with a very archaic design brief that is given to us by the Department of Housing,” he said.

“We are going to be leading ourselves up a path where we have a huge amount of requirements for adaptations in the future. We have somewhere in the region of 7,500 social units in this county and we have at least 43 extensions that we are trying to afford through our budget and we have over 150 minor adaptions that need to be carried out,” he added.

Mr O’Shea pointed out the length of time it takes to rubber stamp an application for housing adaption often means the client has moved on to new accommodation.

He added the extra cost of building houses with a design brief including downstairs bedrooms and bathrooms was minimal and housing adaptions after a house was built costs the Council between €70,000 and €80,000 at a time.

Councillor Kevin Murphy (FG) said it was a “no-brainer” to adopt the approach, while Seamus McGrath (FF) said it should be present in all future social housing schemes in the county.

Cork County Council director of Housing Maurice Manning confirmed that the authority agreed with the approach and the executive will now write to the Department of Housing.

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