Spring Lane halting site to be closed by 2020

Spring Lane halting site to be closed by 2020
The Travellers' Halting Site in Spring Lane, Ballyvolane. Picture: David Keane.

THE controversial Spring Lane halting site in Ballyvolane is to be closed by 2020, under new targets for the site.

Plans are underway to provide alternative accommodation to the almost 150 residents living on the site.

The aim is to complete the shutdown by 2020 and it is understood that an interagency group is working to tackle accommodation issues with that date in mind.

Among the options, it is proposed that the families on the site could be accommodated in group housing schemes, dedicated halting site accommodation and social housing.

The site was opened as an emergency measure almost three decades ago for 10 families.

However, there are now 35 families living there on ten bays – with poor electrical connections, flooding issues, lack of toilet facilities and a potholed road network being among the primary concerns of residents and Traveller advocacy groups.

Chairwoman of the Traveller Visibility Group, Breda O’Donoghue, said the accommodation at Spring Lane is a huge concern.

She explained: “There are people there who have no running water or electricity and there are health and safety issues there too.” Residents are also concerned about the safety of a cliff face at one end of the site.

Ms O’Donoghue added: “There are people living under the cliff face.” 

Emergency works were carried out at the cliff face to prevent it falling onto the site in recent years, after a recommendation in a report on Spring Lane by the late former manager of South Dublin County Council, Joe Horan.

Cork City Council revealed last April that there were a number of anti-social behaviour incidents at the site during improvement works – including one in which an axe was thrown at a worker.

The City Council report threatened legal action if residents of the site continued to refuse social housing offers.

Residents on the site have rejected a number of offers for social housing, despite huge overcrowding, the report said.

In a report presented to members of Cork City Council’s housing functional committee, Valerie O’Sullivan, head of housing at Cork City Hall, said: “If such offers are refused, the only recourse left to the Council is the removal of these families from the site through legal action in the courts, where it can be shown that we have employed all reasonable measures to meet the housing needs and alleviate the conditions at Spring Lane.” 

In 2015, a draft report advocating the development of group housing schemes for families on the site was completed by Respond! housing agency.

It suggested the provision of Traveller-specific housing schemes for some of the residents.

Ms O’Donoghue said some families are in favour of group housing schemes, others want accommodation in social housing, and some are in favour of remaining in halting site accommodation.

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