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Moyross Priest slams "scandalous" demolition of houses in Limerick

Fr Tony O’Riordan said that work on new builds is welcome but “painfully slow”.

A LIMERICK PRIEST has slammed the regeneration policy in Moyross, saying that too few houses are being built compared to those being demolished.

He hopes that houses earmarked for demolition could be used as temporary accommodation for families while new homes are being built.

Fr Tony O’Riordan made the comments after finding out that a local authority house, (pictured) located in Castle Park in Moyross, was due to be demolished under the Limerick regeneration plan.

He told TheJournal.ie that “someone needs to shout stop” and that the Government needs to return its focus to the aims of the regeneration programme in Limerick.

Temporary accommodation

Fr O’Riordan believes that with the delay in demolishing houses, it will take up to two and a half or even three years for replacement housing to be completed.

With this in mind, he believes that houses earmarked for demolition could be turned into temporary accommodation while the new builds ‘catch up’ with the demolition.

He said that people living in the area can’t see the progress of the plan because of the gap between demolition and construction.

“I’ve had several people approach me who are in need of housing saying ‘God I’d love to move into this [vacant] house,” he said.

He said that there has been a “huge migration outwards” of people and families from the area. “We have hundreds of families in need of housing.”

CASTLE pARK 2 Source: Fr Tony O'Riordan

Of the house above, Fr O’Riordan said:

The house was occupied up until [late April]. The family that were living in it have been relocated to another part of the city. The reason they were asked to moved was because this house is earmarked for demolition. This is despite the fact that the house is structurally sound.

Fr O’Riordan described as a “waste of money” the funds recently spent on this house in renewing the gable ends and rebuilding the garden walls.

“Over the last few years, hundreds of houses in this community and up to 1,000 houses in this city have seen a similar fate, and yet only 11 new family houses have been built in recent years,” said O’Riordan in a letter to the Environment Minister Alan Kelly.

Demolition versus construction

Minister Kelly told Fr O’Riordan that the strategic demolitions are part of the regeneration programme.

Fr O’Riordan said that when the community signed up to strategic demolition “it was on the understanding that the replacement housing would be developing almost in parallel, certainly not years behind demolition”.

“Much has been done in recent months to upgrade existing houses and some progress is being made to move ahead with new builds,” he said.

“This is welcome, but painfully slow.”

A policy of demolishing good housing stock in this context is a scandalous policy especially when money was recently spent on this house.

Fr O’Riordan said he believes there are homes in Moyross earmarked for demolition that could be used as temporary accommodation until new homes are finished.

“In many cases you might be talking about installing a central heating system or fixing central heating, maybe new windows. The kind of work involved is minimal in terms of investment and time.”

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Castle Park 1 Source: Fr Tony O'Riordan

There are currently 645 housing units in the estate of Moyross, 45 of which are void, said Fr O’Riordan.

The number of houses in Moyross not so long ago numbered over 1,000.

Fianna Fáil deputy Willie O’Dea told the Limerick Leader last year that he agreed with Fr O’Riordan that the houses should be refurbished to help the housing shortage.

The progress so far

Jason Murphy, Senior Executive Officer, Limerick Regeneration, told TheJournal.ie that
the Limerick Regeneration Framework Implementation Plan (LRFIP) was approved by members of Limerick City Council on 24 February, 2014.

The draft of the LRFIP was launched in September, 2013 following a number of public consultation sessions with local communities.

That consultation commenced in March of that year and the extent of the engagement is documented in the LRFIP under the Statement of Community Involvement.

“Consultation on the regeneration programme continues in the communities through a number of structures such as weekly clinics, regeneration committees, resident structures and community project supports,” he said.

In working to deliver the objectives of the plan there has been a significant emphasis on the thermal upgrading of existing homes and the building of new homes across the regeneration areas.
There has also been a number of strategic demolitions which can generally be characterised as being required to meet with planning requirements and to reshape and improve the physical environment: This is from both the visual amenity perspective and in reducing anti-social behaviour in order to produce a high quality safe and sustainable environment.

Murphy said there has been strong involvement and engagement from residents “to work in an integrated way towards the creation of vibrant and sustainable communities since the establishment of the regeneration programme”.

He said that the ability and willingness of residents to “consider long term benefits rather than striving completely for instant solutions” has “augured well for local resident participation and empowerment”.

At the end of Q1 2015, the status of Regeneration Housing projects was:

  • 118 schemes with preliminary departmental approval
  • 216 schemes at design stage/Part 8 planning
  • 106 schemes at detailed design stage
  • 292 thermal upgraded project
  • 139 schemes at construction stage (including thermal upgrades)
  • 140 schemes completed in 2014
  • 85 schemes completed in 2015 (included thermal upgrades)

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