Chairman’s Arch project hailed by grateful resident
Sharon Maher’s eyes welled up when speaking about her new home in Chairman’s Arch, the €1.7 million City & County Council housing project that was officially opened by Minister of State Paudie Coffey on Friday last.
Sharon, who lives in the re-opened city development with her son Terry, couldn’t conceal the joy she has felt since moving into Number 14, having lived in “pretty poor” condition in a privately rented property in the city previously.
“I got a letter (at the end of October) telling me I had gotten this place, but I had no idea that there were even houses down here, and when we came down to have a look, here off Cathedral Square, I thought there’s no way this can be a Council house, I thought there must have been something wrong with the letter!”
When she was assured there had been no mistake, Sharon was doubly surprised. “I just couldn’t believe it. It was unbelievable! We’ve been here now since the end of November and I still can’t really get my head around it, to be honest.
“Coming off the list in the first place after six years was just an amazing feeling, and to move in here…the insulation in the house is fantastic, it’s a very warm home, and upstairs is so well lit when it comes to skylights, and there’s a big patio door up there as well – and a balcony,
“The builders really utilised the space they had to work with in each house. We’ve a lovely two-bedroom house and the rooms are spacious. We’ve a storage room, a landing and the upper level, the balcony, which is just amazing – it’s hard to believe you’re in the city centre when you’re out up there. It’s so quiet – and I just can’t wait for the summer now when we’ll be out up there…it’s just amazing, a different world from where we used to be living.”
Sharon is almost lost for words at one stage during our brief conversation. “I still have days during the week when I come down here and I still can’t quite believe this is where I live! Even driving home from work, I find myself nearly turning down to where I used to live…this has made such a difference to our lives.”
Ms Maher said there’s “a good mix of young and old” among the new neighbourhood, “there’s a couple of families and then you have elderly residents living in the four one-bed apartments in the archway…and I think we’re all going to get along very well”.
No longer having to contend with the prospect of troublesome neighbours, Sharon said that too has been a source of great relief to both her and her son.
“We’d been living on the same street for 12 years prior to this but things changed a lot up there, and not in a good sense. This has made such a huge difference to our lives and we’re so thrilled to be here.”
In total, Chairman’s Arch has provided 11 new Council housing units, and with a wine bar to open on the ground floor of a building once home to 18th Century architect John Roberts, the injection of life into the heart of the city centre has proven most welcome.
“This is a high calibre development and indicative of what we in Waterford City & County Council want for all of our social housing developments,” said Mayor John Cummins, who also welcomed the €7.3m in Government funding which will permit 46 new social housing builds.
Said Minister Coffey: “This is a perfect example of a project of vision in terms of regeneration of a site in the heart of an urban area such as this, on what is one of Waterford’s oldest streets…to bring new homes of high quality back into the heart of our city.”