House builders at work - Pictured at the North & East Housing Association site at the Old Fire Station at Scarlet Street this morning were (from left): Vincent Keenan, CEO of the North and East Housing Association, Cathaoirleach of Louth County Council Cllr. Liam Reilly, Louth County Council CEO Joan Martin, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, Damien English, TD and Joe McGuinness Director of Housing, Louth County Council. Photo: Andy Spearman.
The Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, Damien English, was in Drogheda this morning to meet with officials from Louth County Council and visit two new housing projects which are currently under construction by the North and East Housing Association.
The first site he visited was the Old Fire Station at Scarlet Street which will provide 15 homes catering for the needs of families and the elderly.
The site occupies a prominent location in a historical part of Drogheda just outside the old town walls. Historically the site was used as a school and the old school yard wall is still present and part will be retained in the scheme.
The site itself used to be part of the grounds of the Sienna Convent and the proposal aims to open up Scarlet Street to the mature trees and parkland setting of the convent. Work is expected to be completed by late 2019
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The other development is at Rathmullan Road where North and East has entered into a contract for the purchase of 54 new homes. The two and three bedroom homes form part of a development of social housing in the area with Tuath Housing Association purchasing the remainder of the 105 homes.
The first homes at the Rathmullan site should be coming on stream in the second half of 2018 and the full scheme should be completed by the middle of 2019.
When constructed, the development will provide modern, traditionally built, energy efficient homes for families, older people, single people and people with disabilities.
Both schemes have been developed in conjunction with Louth County Council and all tenants will be taken from the Council’s Housing List.
Speaking to Drogheda life at the Scarlet Street site Mr. English said that the main reason for his visit was to engage with Louth local authority.
“This morning I met with the Louth CEO Joan Martin and the Housing Director Joe McGuinness discussing the housing projects in the pipeline to make sure they are all on track for delivery.
"I think we all accept that it has taken a while to get back on track with local authorities delivering houses but I think Louth are proving that they are up for the game.
“I think the housing associations have a vital role to play and we’re trying to strengthen relationships with them. Thankfully here in Louth there is a very strong relationship between the local authority and the two housing associations.
"It is very important that they work well together to deliver houses. Today we see 165 houses on this site and 105 more down at Rathmullan. I would ask other local authorities around the country to do the same. With everyone working together through our department we will be able to solve the housing crisis.”
Local Fine Gael TD Fergus O'Dowd, along with party colleagues Councillors Oliver Tully and Richie Culhane, met with Minister Naughten at the Rathmullan site to discuss the progress made to date and the need for more capital investment in social housing for Drogheda.
"We met at the Rathmullen Rd site which will deliver 105 homes in total, North and East Housing were approved for €3.4m to deliver 54 units and Tuath were approved for €3.2m to deliver 51 units” O'Dowd said.
“Ten units have been delivered to date with 19 more targeted by the end of 2018. Sixty units are targeted for 2019 and 16 for 2020. The site is a brown field site and is prioritised for development in the DBC Development plan 2011-2017. There is also land allocated to provide amenity space directly north of the proposed site."
"Both (developments) will provide state of the art homes for many of the most vulnerable families and individuals in our constituency. There are over 1,000 social homes targeted for completion by 2021 in County Louth and this will go some way in reaching the target, however I will continue to raise my views to introduce a more efficient and streamlined process to bring vacant units back into use and I will continue to campaign for a vacant homes tax to encourage more owners to bring their vacant units back into use."
"Much more needs to be done to meet the housing demands in the county but this activity is both required and welcome."