IT looks like Co Laois is going to stay competitive in the house building stakes for 2019 with plans for 193 properties at various stages of progression throughout the county.
These figures were revealed in the monthly management report presented to the chamber at the February meeting of the county council.
Earlier it had been noted with some pride that Laois was the second-best local authority in the country for provision of housing in 2018, delivering 141 units – almost double its target of 76 – and now it hopes to push this impressive figure to almost 200 in the coming year.
The most advanced of these plans – six houses for Shannon Street in Mountrath – is currently assessing tenders and expects to award a contract before the end of March, while the 22 houses planned for Ballymorris in Portarlington is receiving tenders and should be awarded a contract by the autumn.
A further 26 units – planned for three sites in Ballyroan, Rathdowney and Mountmellick – are at what the planners call the ‘Part VIII’ stage, when a local authority applies to itself for planning permission, while the remainder are at stage one of the process, but will be built as they have already drawn down nearly €9m in central funds from the €6bn Rebuilding Ireland Programme.
However, all this information drew mixed responses from the elected representatives.
Cllr Tom Mulhall (FG) was of the opinion that “Laois is doing very well on housing. There’s now just 59 weeks between stage one and stage four (of the public build programme)”.
However, cllr Pauline Madigan (FF) quoted DIT academic Lorcan Sirr, a vocal critic of the current policy: “The model government is trying to do is just not working. Eoghan Murphy (minister for housing) is part of the problem, not the cure.”
Brendan Phelan (Ind) was also somewhat critical of the process, but brought a more contemporary comparison of complaint to the chamber.
“There’s more stages in this (the housing procedure) than in Strictly Come Dancing!” he opined.