Cllr Sean Reinhardt: "Slievekeale already has a high density of people."Historic concerns regarding revised proposals to construct a new housing estate on the grounds of the former Presentation Convent at Slievekeale have once again arisen.
Last week, Minister for Housing Simon Coveney announced plans to build 50 new social housing units in the city. The proposed site, adjacent to the Waterford Health Park, is owned by Waterford Council and the houses are to be constructed under a public private partnership that will see them being returned to the ownership of the local authority after 25 years. The houses will be allocated to individuals and families on the Council’s housing waiting list.
However Independent Cllr Sean Reinhardt, who resides in the area, has expressed concern over the impact of the new estate on traffic in the area.
“I’m delighted that Waterford has been included in this housing action plan, it’s long overdue”, Cllr Reinhardt commented.
“However there is already a high density of people living in this area. While we don’t yet have detailed plans for the new housing development, an obvious issue is where the exit/ entrance is going to be.
“There were huge concerns when an additional entrance was created on the Vincent White Road at the Presentation, that road has always been a rat run for motorists looking for a short-cut from the Ring Road area to the bridge. Yes, we need more houses to take some pressure off the Council’s housing list, but is that road able for those extra traffic volumes?”
Senator Paudie Coffey (FG) welcomed the development, stating: “This new social housing development is a really positive development for Waterford people and families on the housing waiting list.”
This is not the first time that housing has been proposed on the Slievekeale site. A proposal came before Council several years ago to construct a new housing estate on the land but this was shelved following opposition from numerous residents in the Manor Lawn and Cannon Street area, most of whom had similar reservations about traffic capacity.
Meanwhile the possibility has arisen of constructing affordable homes on the North Quays, as part of the new Strategic Development Zone planning scheme.
Minister Coveney announced last week that new houses are expected to become available in strategic development zones as a result of the new Government’s Help to Buy housing initiative. Announced in last October’s budget, the package will provide financial assistance to first-time buyers and offer incentives to developers to build affordable homes. Areas designated as strategic developments zones are expected to be the focus of the housebuilding activity.
Waterford City & County Council is currently in the process of undertaking a wide range of consultations to devise the SDZ scheme.
A draft will be submitted to the elected body in late 2016, around the same time that the demolition process on the North Quays is due to be completed.
Separately, the Department of Housing is also currently examining proposals from Waterford Council to provide funding to incentivise private property owners to make vacant units available for social housing use. Funding mechanisms are currently being examined by officials at the Department.
“The proposals include the use of existing contractual arrangements under the Social Housing Current Expenditure Scheme, as well as additional arrangements for the up-front funding of refurbishment costs by local authorities to be offset by the agreed payment and availability payments to be made to the private owners by the local authorities”, according to Minister Coveney’s new Housing Action Plan, which was published last Tuesday. “The homes could then be sold, let or leased to local authorities “to increase the supply of social housing.”