Nama-owned estate to be sold for social housing


APPROVAL HAS been given for the first Nama-assigned unfinished housing estate to be bought for social housing.

Fifty-five houses, 36 of them unfinished, at Oakley Wood in the town of Tullow, Co Carlow, will be bought by the voluntary housing agency Respond for €2.5 million – an average of €45,450 a unit. However, the final overall cost will not be known until the houses are finished.

Respond’s chief operating officer Ned Brennan said it received approval on Wednesday to buy the houses, which include 10 four-bedroom, 37 three-bedroom and eight two-bedroom units.

Mr Brennan said the 36 incomplete houses were finished externally and “secured from the elements” but still required substantial work. Tenders will be sought to finish them and a builder will be chosen by September.

The houses are expected to be ready to use by late January or early February.

While the units are being finished, assessments will be carried out for suitable tenants from the 100 people on the Carlow-Tullow electoral area housing list. Mr Brennan said the final decision on suitable tenants would be made with Carlow County Council.

Prospective tenants will pay between €24 and €84 a week.

Local Fine Gael TD Pat Tierney said many of those on the housing list had been waiting at least six or seven years “and are in receipt of rent supplement”, which would be saved when they were permanently housed at Oakley Wood.

Eight houses in the estate are currently occupied by families who bought them at the height of the boom in 2006-2007. Homeowners, who declined to comment on the record, are concerned that some 80 per cent of the estate would now be used for social housing. They were awaiting the outcome of the development.

Mr Brennan said he appreciated the families’ concerns.

“They are in a very difficult position and paid a very high price . . . way above what they’re worth now.” He had made initial contact with three of the families and would be meeting them next week with representatives of New Beginnings to consider their options.

Jim Townsend, a councillor and former senator, said councillors had been campaigning for a long time for the purchase of the houses.

Respond has applied to the Department of the Environment for funding through the Capital Acquisition Loan Fund, which Mr Brennan said could provide up to 25 per cent of the cost. It will raise most of the funding from private finance and has reached agreement with financial institutions.