Cork City Council has won two national awards Irish Social Housing Awards – one for its collaborative work in acquiring a city centre apartment block to fulfill local community requirements and a second for developing a best practice rightsizing housing scheme in Blackrock.
Cork City Council was selected as overall winner in the ‘collaboration initiative’ category for its co-operation with the approved housing body, Cluid to acquire the 78 unit Leeside Apartment complex. And better still, it was the overall winner in the ‘housing for older people’ category for its architecturally-lauded Arus Mhuire ‘rightsizing’ scheme.
- Arus Mhuire on Skehard Road, Blackrock is a 30-unit sheltered ‘rightsize’ housing development built by Cork City Council off the Skehard Road . A mix of one- and two-bedroom homes, the development is largely aimed at over 60s considering downsizing from larger homes. The scheme was designed by Mahony Pike architects and delivered by Lyonshall / Clancy Group and procured by an EU Competitive Dialogue process. By downsizing to Arus Mhuire, this frees up larger council and privately- owned homes to families on the housing waiting list. The scheme is open to private home-owners, where the council can acquire their former homes subject to eligibility criteria. The community scheme is managed by the approved housing body, Tuath and includes an onsite caretaker. This novel scheme, according to Brian Geaney, Housing Director ‘makes perfect sense, is very sustainable and a taste of more to come, a no brainer’.
- In late 2017, faced with emerging community challenges at the Leeside Apartments, the City Council took the initiative and facilitated the purchase of the 78 unit complex by Cluid through a combination of a Capital Advance and Availability Payment from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (DHPLG) and a loan facility with the Housing Finance Agency (HFA).
The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr John Sheehan said: “It is great to see the continued innovation by Cork City Council’s Housing Directorate being recognised. There is a high need for 1,2,3 and 4 bed apartments within the Cork city centre area and Leeside Apartments has provided a significant level of social housing provision. Furthermore, there is an enormous lack of step-down and sheltered housing options for older people in this country, compared to what is available elsewhere in Europe. Arus Mhuire is just the kind of rightsizing project that needs to be replicated elsewhere in this city and across the country”.
Cork City Council Director of Housing, Brian Geaney said: “The acquisition of the Leeside was negotiated by Cork City Council and Cluid Housing and allowed the private and HAP supported tenants to remain in the development. Also, 59 no. new homes were immediately available for social housing tenants nominated by Cork City Council. There has been significant learning gained from this initiative in demonstrating what is possible through teamwork and collaboration and commitment to housing delivery. We are delighted that our interventions and the efforts of our team in Cork City has been acknowledged by our peers in the housing sector’’.
“Furthermore, Arus Mhuire is a unique housing scheme, procured and developed by Cork City Council, to provide a sustainable housing solution for older persons living in both social and private housing which is no longer suitable due to layout, size, location or physical condition etc. Arus Mhuire provides ‘right size’ and age friendly accommodation. This project was targeted to fill a gap in the provision of housing the elderly whilst also, freeing- up existing homes for younger families,” he said.