Seanad debates

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Commencement Matters

Regeneration Projects Funding

2:30 pm

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Anne Phelan.

Photo of Colm BurkeColm Burke (Fine Gael)
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I welcome the Minister of State and thank her for taking this matter. My concern relates to Knocknaheeny and what is now known as the north-west regeneration project in Cork city. I represented that area of the city for 12 years on Cork City Council. When I left the city council in 2007, the project was being planned but since then, progress has been extremely slow. I am particularly concerned that funding allocated last year has not all been taken up. The plan was changed in that it was initially called Knocknaheeny regeneration and then became known as north-west regeneration because other areas were included.

I will describe the area for the Minister of State. There are 1,150 local authority houses in this, about one third of which are occupied by lone parents. There is quite a large number of young families in the area and it needs to be given priority. I am concerned that because all the funding was not used in 2014, funding may be reduced for 2015. I am asking that adequate funding be provided in 2015 for the regeneration project to progress in a speedy manner. The project needs to be expedited and we need to see far more results than we have seen over the last four to five years.

Photo of Ann PhelanAnn Phelan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Labour)
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I am delighted to be able to respond on behalf of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Alan Kelly. Senator Colm Burke has raised an extremely important issue for Cork city. My Department's regeneration programme targets the country's most disadvantaged communities - those defined by social exclusion, unemployment and anti-social behaviour. My Department currently supports an ambitious programme of regeneration projects in various locations, which seek to address the causes of disadvantage in the estates concerned through a holistic programme of physical, social and economic regeneration. The value placed on the regeneration programme is explicitly recognised in the programme for Government. It is the stated objective of the Department to ensure that this important programme continues to be supported.

As part of this work, my Department has been supporting Cork City Council's implementation strategy for the regeneration of Cork city north-west. Over the last six years, €45 million has been invested in this area and this investment has supported a number of valuable construction projects, including Knocknaheeny block D, The Glen phase two and the purchase of 53 new houses and apartments at Ard Sionnach.These new units provided replacement social housing stock for units to be demolished as part of the regeneration programme. Other projects that have been advanced under the regeneration programme include public realm works at Boyce's Street and at Dunnycove estate, where green areas have been restored to provide sport and recreational space for the local residents. A community garden has also been provided as part of the overall regeneration of the area.

The revised Cork city north-west regeneration master plan was produced in 2011 and it now includes a wider area, including Hollyhill, than it originally covered.

In respect of upcoming work, construction of 23 new social houses under phase 1A of the programme commenced in 2014 and has progressed well, with ten units expected to be completed by July 2015 and the remaining 13 units also delivered later this year. Planning approval was sought for phase 1B in late 2014 and it is anticipated that construction will commence later in 2015. In respect of phase 2 of the programme, plans for the design, tenure mix and decanting of social housing units are progressing well.

Cork City Council submitted its 2015 regeneration work programme to my Department last week. This details the estimated expenditure across the range of projects within the overall regeneration programme for the year. My Department is now examining that submission. Given the continued support for the regeneration of Cork city north-west, this is a matter of examining the proposed projects and associated budgets and ensuring that appropriate allocations can be made to advance the work involved. My Department will be responding to the local authority shortly on this submission and I look forward to continued implementation of the programme for the regeneration of this important part of Cork city.

Photo of Colm BurkeColm Burke (Fine Gael)
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I have two concerns. First, I have no details on the amount of money allocated for 2014 and what was subsequently drawn down. That is the reason I raise this issue. The project is progressing extremely slowly. As I stated, there are 1,150 local authority houses in this area. For 2015, a total of 23 will be completed. I am not saying all 1,150 houses will be affected by the changes but we seem to be making very slow progress.

Second, I am concerned that it is only in the fifth month of the year that we have received the submission for 2015 from the local authority. Can we have an explanation as to the reason there was such a delay in submitting that?

Photo of Ann PhelanAnn Phelan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Labour)
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I will ask the officials to revert to the Deputy on the amount of moneys drawn down as they can give him the detail of that. In my reply, I did not have the answer to the question about the pace of progress but I will convey Senator Burke's concerns to the Minister.

Photo of Colm BurkeColm Burke (Fine Gael)
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Can I ask about-----

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Senator, there is no provision for-----

Photo of Colm BurkeColm Burke (Fine Gael)
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-----the amount allocated in 2014 also?

Photo of Ann PhelanAnn Phelan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Labour)
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I will ask the officials to give that to the Senator.