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Dereliction questions raised

Wednesday, 14th October, 2020 2:35pm

Councillors in county Cork have called for immediate action to be taken regarding mounting problems with derelict sites.

Speaking at County Hall this week, where three separate motions were made in relation to the issue of dereliction, Fine Gael Cllr Karen Coakley called upon Cork County Council to implement the Derelict Sites Act of 1990.

According to Cllr Coakley, filed cases of dereliction are “gathering dust” and need to be addressed immediately.

Responding to Cllr Coakley, Chief Executive (CE) Tim Lucey rejected the wording of the claims and said that the Derelict Sites Act was an “extremely difficult piece of legislation to work with”.

Fine Gael Cllr John Paul O’Shea supported the motion and suggested there be an increase made to incentives for owners of derelict sites to bring them back into use.

He also called for the role of vacant homes officers to be expanded in order to deal with cases of deceased or unknown ownership of properties.

Seconding the motion, Lord Mayor of County Cork, Cllr Mary Linehan Foley, asked the CE whether there was a process in place to find resolution when the site owners can’t be found or have died.

Mr Lucey responded by saying that the real issue with dereliction lay in the commercial viability of the sites in question to the private sector.

In the second of three motions relating to derelict sites, Fianna Fáil Cllr Pat Hayes called on the Council to examine the feasibility of purchasing vacant and derelict buildings in towns and villages with a view to rebuilding or renovating them.

Niall Healy, Director of Services, Municipal District Operations & Rural Development Directorate, addressed Cllr Hayes’ motion, referring to Project ACT (Activating County Towns).

Mr Healy said: “As part of Project ACT, Cork County Council has recently undertaken a baseline level analysis of vacant properties in our town centres. In this regard the approach will centre on securing immediate results in buildings that are immediately available and fit for purpose.”

However, Mr Healy warned that such a process will take time in order to address key title, legal and structural challenges.

Finally, Independent Cllr Noel Collins asked if the problem of dereliction requires “fresh legislation” in order to operate beyond the limitations of current legislation. Cllr Collins claimed he had been pursuing the issue for 54 years without success, labelling Ireland a “nation of land-grabbers” and insisting that action be taken immediately.

Mr Healy responded saying that all details of vacant homes raised by elected members or the local community are referred to the Housing Directorate in order that they can be considered under either the Repair & Leasing Initiative, or the Buy & Renew Scheme.

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