Is Gorey facing a housing crisis?

By Dan Walsh at Gorey-Kilmuckridge meeting

The end of March moratorium on evictions, the need to prioritise affordable housing and delayed starting dates for proposed housing projects in the North Wexford and Gorey area may present “massive problems”, according to concerned members discussing housing at today’s meeting of Gorey-Kilmuckridge Municipal District Council held in the Council Chamber in the Civic Buildings.

CLLR JOE SULLIVAN

Cllr Joe Sullivan opened the debate with an observation of something that is coming down the tracks, namely “The 31st of March when there will be a deluge of people coming out of homes because of the moratorium on evictions when they will be coming into the market again to try and get properties.

“We as the County Council must work as hard as we can for any properties that we can get to occupiable state of building or renovation, have them ready by March 31st so that we can put social housing tenants into them and free up properties that are being currently rented by people on social housing lists,” stated Cllr Sullivan, who added “we are going to run into massive, massive problems on the 31st of March.”

Commenting on the housing report, Cllr Sullivan said he was “somewhat dismayed to read that of 20 houses in Ramsfort we are tendering for Q4 of 2023; what that says to me we will not be turning a key a door until very late ’24 or early ’25; I was told at a meeting that Wexford Street would be starting in January  2023 – we have two weeks to go in January 2023 – I am not so sure that will get started. Can we do what we can to move those projects on?”

Cllr Andrew Bolger fully agreed with Cllr Sullivan’s comments, but said he was “alarmed” to find in the report that the Ramsfort site is down for Q4 as it was “my understanding that the tendering was for this year and for construction to start in March 2024?”

Ms. Helen Frayne from the Housing Department at Wexford County Council referred to “tendering documents of a framework of suitable contractors” for the Ramsfort site, it is hoped to have the tendering process towards the end of 2023.”

Cllr Sullivan was uneasy at the reply. He queried “What has gone on with the Ramsfort site since last July? The site was cleaned, some grass and brambles cut, that’s all. Six months has gone by and nothing has happened. It’s not good enough”.

Cllr Anthony Donohoe questioned how it took until Q4 2023 for the Ramsfort site to get to the tender stage? He referred to the situation in the neighbouring county of Wicklow where it appears that hundreds of houses are being provided!

Cllr Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin referred to the Minister’s 30% rule, he felt that 20 houses had been ringfenced for local applicants, but now appears there are only six houses. Cllr Ó Súileabháin had brought the matter before Wexford County Council last week and the CEO confirmed that the Wexford members had signed up to the Minister’s 70-30 rule.

In reply, Ms. Frayne told the meeting that the 70-30 rule was adopted in line with Ministerial request and the CEO’s commitment is under review. She pointed out that “the 70% doesn’t rule out ‘locals’ but indicates that “it can’t state that they will get priority.”

Director of Services, Ms. Liz Hore favoured 100% support for local people. “We will be doing everything we can to review the 70-30 rule,” she stated.

CLLR ANTHONY DONOHOE

Cllr Diarmuid Devereux asked about “confined to local applicants” and asked for a definition. “We need to be really careful here,” he stated. However, Ms. Hore outlined that “we have ways of defining local needs in the planning process.”

Cllr Oliver Walsh had a question about the 16 new houses in Blackwater village and a lack of consultation with the local school and the number of extra places required, but Ms. Hore pointed out that schools are not a matter for Wexford County Council but the Department of Education.

Cllr Willie Kavanagh asked if the Council had any plans to acquire properties for housing in the areas of Glenbrien, Oylegate and The Ballagh? Expressions of interest from property owners would be explored!

Quote of the Day; “We need houses. We don’t need castles,” quipped Cllr Donohoe.

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