MAYO County Council has begun to identify suitable derelict sites around the county to purchase in order to develop units for accommodation.
Director of Services with Mayo County Council Simon Shevlin told members of the Housing Strategic Policy Committee that the Council had already identified sites for development and were looking at the possibility of more.
The sites include the former Garda station on Walsh Street in Ballina, which the Council was looking to purchase from the OPW as well as sites in Ballinrobe, Castlebar and Claremorris.
“We are working with the municipal districts for them to identify to us which derelict sites they think will be suitable for housing,” he explained.
“We know we can’t build on every derelict site because there mightn’t be a [housing] need in that area. We are looking to CPO [Compulsory Purchase Order] some sites but also looking to buy the land directly off the landowner, which will be a quicker way to do it
“We would rather deal with the landowner directly and get a proper site investigation done to see what costs would be involved. Sometimes if you CPO a site without a proper site investigation you may buy a thing which will cost a fortune to develop.
“Over this year we plan to identify a number of derelict sites that we will purchase for social housing and bring those to you at the next SPC.”
Mr Shevlin said the Council is to exceed its target of building 708 units by 2021 as part of the Rebuilding Ireland strategy, which has allowed it time to focus on derelict sites. He said they also plan to talk to housing associations and private developers about working with them to purchase and develop derelict sites.
While the news was welcomed by Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne, he said he was skeptical regarding council management’s sincerity when it comes to tackling derelict sites. He said legislation has been in place to levy owners of derelict sites in the past and nothing has been done about it.
“Mayo County Council are always talking to us about how things are in relation to money but they haven’t collected the price of their lunch from people with derelict sites. The councillors have tried to force the issue on many occasions. What you are saying you will do now, we were asking for it ten years ago,” he said.