Twenty-seven new homes in Rathdrum and Arklow were officially opened today (Tuesday) in what was the first of many such events in the coming months and years as Wicklow County Council progresses its housing development programme.
Twenty new houses were opened at Avondale Heights in Rathdrum while seven apartments were unveiled in the Old Schoolhouse in Arklow. The ceremony was performed by Minister of State, Mr Andrew Doyle TD.
Speaking at the opening of the Rathdrum development, the Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Cllr Pat Vance, said it was “the first of many in the pipeline for County Wicklow.” The scheme, he said, would deliver a mix of energy efficient 1, 2 and 3-bedroom homes for families and individuals and pointed out that the eight one-bed units were fully disabled accessible and complete with wheelchair-ready wet rooms.
Cllr Vance added: “I recognise the serious challenge we face in terms of housing and a critical focus and priority has been firmly placed on responding to this challenge by Wicklow County Council through the development and implementation of the Social Housing supply programme.”
He stated: “Today heralds the first of many official openings that will take place over the coming months and years as Wicklow County Council vigorously progresses its development programme under the Rebuilding Ireland banner.”
The social housing target for Wicklow over the course of 2018-2021, Cllr Vance said, sets an ambitious task, to deliver over 1300 additional homes under Build, Acquisition, Part V and Leasing schemes. He was confident that the Council was committed, energised and mobilised to deliver on that ambition.
Speaking at the opening of the Arklow scheme, Cllr Vance said the project saw the conversion of an existing, much-loved period property into seven new high efficiency ‘A’ rated homes. The apartments include three one- beds and four two-beds units.
All first-floor apartments have balconies with either mountain or sea views while there is a triangular communal garden for the residents to congregate and socialise. The existing ornate facade and many original internal features have been retained.
Performing the official opening, Mr Andrew Doyle TD, Minister of State, said such events – particularly in his home county – highlighted the real progress on the ground being achieved by local authorities in addressing the challenges we face in the housing sector at this present time.
While new-build output in 2017 in Wicklow may have been low, Minister Doyle said it must be recognised that a healthy pipeline of activity has been established over recent years and these schemes represented just two of a number of projects in Wicklow County Council’s growing programme of development.
Mr Frank Curran, Chief Executive, Wicklow County Council, said that over the course of the next two years, the Council’s programme is expected to deliver newly constructed homes for more than 400 households on the Council’s social housing list.
The Council currently has 18 projects at various stages of construction and tendering, with funding of over €58m already sanctioned by the Department. A further 16 Schemes are under active consideration with a potential yield for a further 260 units by 2021. The Council was also engaged with Approved Housing Bodies under the CALF and CAS schemes and with private developers who are delivering additional units under Part V.
Mr Curran thanked the Minister and the Department for their assistance and also the Council’s housing staff under Mr Joe Lane along with the elected members of Wicklow County Council for their support of the Housing Supply Programme.
Speakers praised the contractors involved in both projects – QMAC Construction in Rathdrum and Coyne Group in Arklow – pointing out the high quality of work and input.