THE surprise decision to sell the historic Gate Lodge building on the Model Farm Road has been met with dismay and disappointment by a number of Cork City councillors.
Elected members hit out at the shock sale, with many claiming that they only heard that the property was to be offloaded through media reports this week.
The 1860s-built structure is being offered for sale on the instructions of Cork City Council, with an asking price of €100,000.
The building was the former gate lodge of the Munster Institute, known locally as the Model Farm, which became the first dairy institute in Ireland or Britain to teach female students.
It has been in council ownership since 1984 and was used as a social housing unit up to November 2004. While it is not a protected structure, it is listed in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage but has been formally declared derelict.
It is understood that the removal of dereliction could cost as much as €200,000.
Fianna Fail Councillor Mary Shields said she disappointed a decision had been made without discussion with the councillors.
Independent Councillor Kieran McCarthy echoed Cllr Shields’ comments, saying the council should have been consulted regarding the future of the building and also said he felt the historic building should be minded.
“I will watch this sale with interest,” Mr McCarthy said.
Mr McCarthy also said he had hoped the building could have been linked to the nearby CIT or as some kind of startup hub. He said it was a pity these ideas would not be realised.
Sinn Fein Councillor Henry Cremin said as a resident of the area he felt insulted that he learnt of the decision ‘after the horse had bolted.’
“I live just a 100 yards from the building and I didn’t know anything about the sale,” he said.
Cllr Cremin also said the council had spent €75,000 cleaning up the area around the building in the past two years.
Councillor Chris O’Leary, who sits on the Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) Housing and Community committee, said they had requested a report on the building to be sent to them and City Council informed them that report would be available by November 27.
Fianna Fáil Councillor Seán Martin said he felt it was the right decision to sell the building and that the local authority should look at selling more properties in the council’s portfolio that have fallen into disrepair.
“We need to look at the possible savings that could be made from selling off these properties. There is no point holding on to them for the sake of it,” he said.
“If properties are in bad condition, there is no point putting work into them, we should make a profit by selling them on.”
Director of Service, Housing and Community Valerie O’Sullivan said the sale of Gate Lodge was a matter for the Property Department.
Assistant Chief Executive Pat Ledwidge confirmed a report had been requested by the SPC Housing and Community Committee and he said he hoped the report would be ready by the next SPC meeting which was scheduled for November 27.