Knocknaheeny in Cork. Google Streetview

Over 20 Irish estates in need of major regeneration

Although some of the projects have started, many have been affected by government cutbacks and the collapse of the Public Private Partnership Programme.

THE NOT-FOR-PROFIT responsible for the much-praised revamp of a Longford street last week has identified 22 estates in the country that are in need of “major regeneration”.

Advocating for more public-non-profit partnerships, Clúid Housing Association says it – and other groups similar to it – can help leverage additional income from private loan finance as local authorities find it increasingly difficult to fund major renewal projects.

The list of 22 estates in need of urgent work includes seven sites in Dublin, four in Limerick, four in Cork, three in Waterford and one each in Kerry, Sligo and Louth.

According to Clúíd, all 22 have been affected by government cutbacks though projects being scaled back or delayed altogether. Capital spending on the provision of social housing in Ireland was cut by a devastating 72 per cent between 2008 and 2012 – from €1.38 billion to €390 million.

(During the Celtic Tiger years, social housing was provided through Public Private Partnerships where developers were given land in exchange for the necessary properties).

“Many of the estates have similar problems to what was seen in St Michael’s in Longford,” Clúid’s Head of Policy, Simon Brooke, told Those issues included a build up of litter, anti-social behaviour, derelict and boarded up buildings and unsafe surroundings.

“For many, it is because local authorities – for a range of reasons – did not carry out repairs to keep the properties to a high standard. In some cases, the buildings were erected during an era of lower standards and there was not enough money so they were left to deteriorate. That causes a spiral of decline that is difficult to reverse.”

Although there are similar problems across all the estates, there are issues unique to each development.

For St Michael’s, the litter problem was major. One of the first tasks Clúid completed was spending €46,000 on a number of large skips to get rid of the rubbish that had built up to levels that reached the second floor of some houses.

The impact of that decision was more than just creating a clean estate.

“It was a concrete demonstration that we meant business,” said Brooke. “We were not just full of high-faluting ideas and posh architects.”

It is this type of expertise that sets the idea of a non-profit housing association apart, according to the head of policy.

“It takes a long time – St Michael’s was started in 2006. So it is crucial to ensure that the tenants and residents are with you. If you lose their trust, you’re done for. You have to try and make sure they are on board through consultation. Consult, consult, consult.”

St Michael’s was revamped at a cost of €6 million and Clúid is committed to sustaining the area.

“There are two parts to ensuring the areas don’t slip again,” he explained. “The first bit is easy – the bricks and mortar. Once we have renovated the buildings – installed affordable heating systems, insulation and double glazing – it is our job to make sure they do not fall into disrepair. We will carry out necessary works with money we have in the bank but that shouldn’t be for years to come.”

Essentially, Clúid is the landlord for about 3,800 properties and has responsibility for their upkeep. The properties have provided housing to low-income families, older people, people with disabilities and Traveller families.

However, the second solution for sustainability mentioned by Brooke relies on the residents of an area.

“We can make the houses but not the homes,” he continued. “When an area has been improved through, the way people live there changes dramatically. There comes a pride in living in the street or the estate. They become less tolerant of anti-social behaviour and litter so they play their part to make sure it doesn’t happen.”

There are just two large-scale, not-for-profit housing associations in Ireland – Clúid and Respond. There are a few hundred smaller ones who own about 5o homes each.

Of the 22 projects, two or three could realistically be undertaken at one time by an association if there is the political will to do so.

Last week, Housing Minister Jan O’Sullivan said the government sees the role of the not-for-profit association as being very important in the years ahead.

“Housing associations have developed considerable expertise in both renovation of housing, and community development,” she said. “The public-nonprofit partnership approach is a model to be considered for future regeneration, particularly as some housing associations are in a position to access additional private finance.”

The estates identified for regeneration include:

  • O’Devaney Gardens, Dublin
  • Dolphin House, Dublin
  • St Teresa’s Gardens, Dublin
  • St Michael’s Estate, Dublin
  • Dominick Street, Dublin
  • Charlmount Street, Dublin
  • Croke Villas, Dublin
  • St Mary’s Mansions, Dublin
  • Moyross, Limerick
  • Southill, Limerick
  • Ballinacurra Weston, Limerick
  • St Mary’s Park, Limerick
  • Knocknaheeny, Cork
  • Holyhill, Cork
  • Kilmore Avenue, Cork
  • Parts of Gurranbraher and Fairhill, Cork
  • Mitchel’s Crescent, Tralee
  • Cranmore, Sligo
  • Cox’s Demesne, Dundalk
  • Ardmore, Waterford
  • Larchville, Waterford
  • Lisduggan, Waterford

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