*Pictured during a visit to the construction site of the Ashline social housing development in Ennis are: front row (l-r) Darragh O’Brien TD, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Cllr PJ Ryan, Cathaoirleach, Clare County Council and (back row l-r) Anne Haugh, Director of Social Development, Clare County Council; Pat Dowling, Chief Executive, Clare County Council; and Graham Doyle, Secretary General, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. Photograph: Eamon Ward.
Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien (FF) has insisted the country’s housing crisis “will be greatly improved” when his term concludes.
On Friday, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD visited the construction site of the Ashline social housing development in Ennis, which will see the provision of 40 social housing units through a direct build scheme by Clare County Council which is expected to be ready in March.
An approved budget of €10.534m has been set aside by the Department for the project which is comprised of 13 two-bed two-storey terraced and semi-detached dwellings, 17 three-bed two-storey terraced and semi-detached dwellings, 2 four-bed two-storey terraced and semi-detached dwellings, 2 two-bed single-storey terraced and detached bungalows (specially adapted), 1 four-bed single-storey detached bungalow, 3 three-bedroom two-storey terraced, semi-detached and detached dwellings and 2 two-bedroom single-storey terraced bungalows.
Praise for the Ashline development was voiced by Minister O’Brien during his visit to the county. Speaking to The Clare Echo, he was adamant that the housing crisis in Ireland would be “greatly improved” by the time he is finished as Minister. “I’ve put a massive emphasis on affordable housing, we’ve passed the most significant piece of affordable housing legislation ever, I’m going to launch the multi-annual housing plan next year and the difference being it is fully funded. We will make a big dent in the housing crisis, we can do it, we’ve the wherewithal, the expertise, the knowledge and the capability in this country and this government to make real strides on this housing situation, it is doable.
“I want to make sure the normal working families and individuals who feel they can’t buy a home are going to be able to, that is why the first thing I did was to champion the affordable housing bill which is now enacted and in law, we have cost rental up and running within the space of one year,” Minister O’Brien added.
Social housing will be delivered “at a scale never seen before” under the new Housing for All programme, he stated. “We’re here in Clare with forty fantastic homes that only started last November, there is more of this and I’ve given the local authority the ability to go and buy more land if they need it, I’ve met with the Chief Executive and the Director of Service for Housing earlier on, I’m asking local authorities to deliver more public homes, I’ll be asking them to deliver affordable homes as well, we can make a real dent”.
An emphasis on energy efficiency will form part of the “high-specification finish,” Council Chief Executive, Pat Dowling explained. M Fitzgibbon Contractors Ltd are the contractors for the Ashline development with a design team comprised of Eml Architects Ltd, Tom McNamara & Partners, P Coleman & Associates and Matt O’Mahony & Associates.
Housing need in Ennis “where demand is particularly high” will be aided greatly by the development, Director of Social Development with the local authority, Anne Haugh outlined. “It is important that we maintain momentum in identifying and delivering on all opportunities for increasing the social housing stock in Ennis to address this demand”.
A spokesperson for Clare County Council said they are on track to deliver an additional 322 homes by direct build across the county by 2023 with two-thirds of these already complete or under construction.