New builds in Kilkenny must maximise social housing, says councillor

'Opportunity for developers to develop sites for private housing'

Sam Matthews

Reporter:

Sam Matthews

Email:

sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

Housing construction

the council has said there is potential for 800 houses to be constructed

Two local councillors have expressed some concern over proposals to allow a large number of houses to be built in the western environs of Kilkenny City, over the fact that they will be mostly private houses.

A decision last week by local councillors to approve a proposed variation to the City Development Plan allows for more intensive residential development, along with two new schools, in that part of the city.

With funding for necessary infrastructure and a CPO on lands already in place, the council has said there is potential for 800 houses to be constructed in that part of Kilkenny by 2021. Director of services Tim Butler has said this will ‘go a long way to alleviating the housing crisis’.

However, local councillors have expressed some concern that these 800 houses will be largely for the private market.

“I welcome all of this — it is fantastic for Kilkenny,” said Cllr Andrew McGuinness. However, he emphasised that the LIHAF funding was in actually in place for infrastructure, rather than the construction of social housing.

“It’s an opportunity for developers to develop sites for private housing,” he said.

“Is there a plan for us as a local authority to maximise housing?"

The Fianna Fail councillor said the proposed developments might create more houses, but they would not solve Kilkenny’s housing crisis, as only 10% can be earmarked for social housing.

Senior planner Denis Malone said that local authorities could not deliver houses as the pace they are wanted. Mr Butler acknowledged the 10% figure, however, he said that there would be voluntary organisations working with the developers as well. He said the housing would alleviate the private rental market and the housing list.

“Realistically, we’re never going to provide more than 80-100 social houses per annum,” he said.

“But the fact that 800 houses are proposed will take pressure off the market and social housing, in a way.”

Cllr David Kennedy said he had previously made his concerns known about waiting on developers to build homes.

"If we’ve 800 houses, other houses will free up’ - that’s grand, but it’s a bit of a cop-out,” he said.

“People want their own social housing; they want that certainty.”