Seanad debates

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Adjournment Matters

Housing Regeneration

1:50 pm

Photo of Michael MullinsMichael Mullins (Fine Gael)
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I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Deenihan, to the House.

Photo of Colm BurkeColm Burke (Fine Gael)
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I welcome the Minister of State to the House. My question concerns the housing regeneration programme in Knocknaheeny. There are over 1,150 local authority houses in the Knocknaheeny area. A number of years ago, the local authority decided on a regeneration of the whole area and a detailed planning process was put in place to deal with it. I understand that we are still on phases 1A and 1B, so there is a question mark over 2015.

In 2014, some €10 million was to be provided, but the Department has kept raising issues about the programme. As of today, only about €3 million of that €10 million has been made available. There is concern in the area that phases 2A, 2B and 3 will not be moved ahead in 2015 because funding seems to be becoming available at a slow rate.

There is a need for clarification on what the Department's intention is for 2015. Knocknaheeny has a very big, young population so it is important to have proper housing structures in place. The regeneration programme is about making it a better and more environmentally-friendly place for people to live in. I am therefore raising the matter in that context.

Photo of Jimmy DeenihanJimmy Deenihan (Kerry North-West Limerick, Fine Gael)
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I thank the Senator for raising this issue. I have been asked by my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Alan Kelly, to speak on this matter.

Significant funding has been made available to Cork City Council by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government for the past number of years to support the Cork city north west regeneration project. In 2013, the allocation was €12 million and in 2014 a further €10 million has been made available.

The specific allocations to be provided in 2015 across all the Department's various funding schemes and programmes will be published in the 2015 Revised Estimates volume in December. That will include the breakdown of the social housing investment programme. At that point, the Department will be working with all local authorities to agree individual allocations across all the social housing activities, including regeneration programmes such as that at Cork city north west.

The ongoing implementation of the Cork city north west regeneration project remains a matter for Cork City Council. However, the Department liaises with the council in respect of its advancement of the project and its prioritisation of individual schemes for inclusion in annual work programmes, and in respect of the capital funding allocations which are made by the Department.

As each of the proposed project elements of the masterplan are progressed, they are subject to the standard appraisal for capital projects. I understand that work commenced on phase 1A of the Cork city north west regeneration project in 2014, somewhat later than originally anticipated. However, this is now progressing and delivery of 23 new social housing units is scheduled for 2015. As regards phase 1B, I understand this is due to go to planning later this year and that demolition on this site has already taken place.

I also understand that an updated implementation plan for the overall project is due to be completed by Cork City Council in February next. I expect this will clarify the position regarding phases 2 and 3, in particular such matters as the number of social housing units, their timelines for development and the approach to tenure mix. It will allow the council and the Department to identify capital funding requirements for the next stages of the project.

Nationally, the Department supports an ambitious programme of regeneration in a number of areas across the country. The regeneration approach seeks to address many of the causes of disadvantage in communities based in large social housing estates and flat complexes, through holistic programmes of physical, social and economic regeneration.

The value placed on the national regeneration programme is explicitly recognised in the programme for Government. It is the objective of the Minister, Deputy Kelly, and his Department to ensure that this important programme continues to be supported, including for the people of Knocknaheeny in Cork.

Photo of Colm BurkeColm Burke (Fine Gael)
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I thank the Minister of State for his reply. I know that money was allocated in 2014, but my understanding is that the drawdown and availability of money has been extremely slow. The whole project has slowed up quite considerably. In fairness, it is a project that needs to be given priority. If there are obstacles to be overcome then it is important that they be dealt with. It appears, however, that the whole project has been slowed up, especially when one considers that while €10 million has been set aside, only €3 million has been made available so far.

Photo of Jimmy DeenihanJimmy Deenihan (Kerry North-West Limerick, Fine Gael)
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That seems to be a matter for the local authorities, more so than for the Department. The Department has made the money available. It would seem that if there are problems with the project, they exist locally. That may not be the case, but I suggest that the Senator should take the matter up with Cork City Council. I will certainly convey the Senator's message - that he is unhappy with progress where there is an obvious need for it - to the Minister, Deputy Kelly.

The Seanad adjourned at 3 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 18 November 2014.