Hi, there! — Welcome to the thirteenth edition of my monthly newsletter to keep you up to date on my work for Cork City North East.
This month we have motions on a Blackpool to Blarney cycleway, publishing data on Cork City Council’s work in housing, environment and other areas, and questions on the delivery of parks and amenities in the ward. I’ve also included updates on immediate measures in place for tenants, following the lifting of the eviction ban, and an update on plans for BusConnects Cork.
Please make sure to share this newsletter with your friends and neighbours in the ward. If there’s anything you need to get in touch about, or if you have feedback or comments on a local matter, feel welcome to email me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
p.s. Use this link to easily share the newsletter with your neighbours ... oliver.ie/newsletter
Motions and notions
Every month, each councillor can submit up to four motions to Cork City Council and ask two formal questions of the Chief Executive. One of these questions is asked at the Local Area Committee and must be about local operational issues.
Before the deadline each month, I meet with my local group, the Cork City North Greens and we agree motions and questions for the month ahead. We call this our “motions and notions” meeting :-)
If you have ideas or suggestions for a motion, or have a question you want asked, just let me know!
Or join the Cork City North Greens ... my.greenparty.ie/join
“To ask the Chief Executive if Cork City Council intends to take ownership of a parcel of land between Clifton Terrace and Lower Glanmire Road from CIÉ for the creation of a pocket park; and the status of the transfer of ownership?”
My question for the Local Area Committee will be:
“To ask the Chief Executive the sequence and timeline for delivery of projects under the programme of active travel works taking place in Glanmire, including the greenway?”
“That Cork City Council will publish data tables from the Chief Executive’s Monthly Management Report in a machine-readable format and publish these to the city’s open data portal.”
“That Cork City Council will include a Nature in the City Day as part of Heritage Week or Biodiversity Week activities.”
“That Cork City Council, in cooperation with An Garda Síochána, will pilot the installation of signs at the entrances to the Glen River Park advising the public to contact An Garda Síonacha on the 999/112 emergency numbers in the case of scramblers and quad bikes being used in the park.” *
“That Cork City Council will advance a cycleway from Blackpool to Blarney, including routes already identified in the Cork Metropolitan Area Cycle Plan and emerging from the N/M20 Cork to Limerick scheme and CycleConnects; and connecting with the Cork–Waterford pathfinder project through the city centre.”
* This is the advice An Garda Síonacha provide at Community Safety Fora in the case of members of the public seeing scramblers and quad bikes in parks.
New measures for tenants facing eviction
The lifting of the eviction ban has put incredible pressure on tenants, now facing eviction and without any place to go. Since the announcement, I’ve been working very closely with Neasa Hourigan TD and other colleagues in the Green Party to ensure immediate measures were put in place for tenants.
As a result of this pressure, the Government announced immediate measures that came into effect from 1 April, the day the eviction ban was lifted:
In the case of tenants on the social housing list who are renting in the private market using Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), Cork City Council will be able to purchase the property from the landlord and rent it back to the tenant-in-situ as a normal social housing tenancy. This provision is already in place, and Cork City Council has already purchased a small number of properties on these terms, but the scheme will be scaled up substantially after 1 April.
For other tenants in the private market without HAP, where they are being evicted for reason of sale and they are at risk of homelessness, Cork City Council will be able to purchase the property and rent it back to the tenant-in-situ on a not-for-profit basis. This is new and has been introduced on an “administrative basis” until formal legislation can be brought in.
Lastly, for tenants in the private market who are being evicted for reason of sale, they will have first choice to purchase the property with the state taking up to 30% equity in the property to assist with the purchase. Local authority loans will also be able to assist with the mortgage.
The last provision won’t be in place yet because it will need new legislation, but, following a very concerted campaign by the Green Party, the first two are in place now.
Last month, I asked officials to give a formal update of how the tenant-in-situ scheme is working. So far, Cork City Council has purchased three properties with tenants remaining in situ. In addition to these, there are five properties where the purchase is near to completion and 11 more currently under technical inspection and progressing to valuation stage.
Officials have confirmed to me that the quality of housing for sale has not so far been a barrier to purchase in any case.
Over the same time, Cork City Council has received 117 initial contacts from either landlords or tenants regarding properties where tenants are at risk of becoming homeless due to the sale of a property. This shows just how much the scheme will have to be accelerated now the eviction ban is lifted.
In addition, Cork City Council has acquired 14 vacant and derelict properties that are not suitable for social housing. Business cases are being assessed for additional properties to be acquired in the short to medium term. This is in addition to vacant and derelict properties acquired by Cork City Council for potential community purposes.
If the issues above affect you, and you’re being evicted for reason of sale, email email@example.com for advice and options to stay in place — or get in touch directly and I will do my best to assist you.
Residential Zoned Land Tax
This month I received confirmation that a vacant site on Brian Boru Street will be included in the new Residential Zoned Land Tax. In November, I proposed this site be included in the new tax, with the first annual payment due before May 2024 until the site is developed.
The site is one example of countless sites across the city that have permission for housing but where that permission is not being moved on. The idea is to put a cost on sitting on vacant residential land while people are crying out for houses to be built. The speculative nature of land means it’s often profitable to sit on these sites and do nothing with them.
Planning permission was granted in 2016 for “the construction of a new retail unit and 3 no. apartments in a new 4 storey building with roof garden and the relocation and reconfiguration of advertising sign from the boundary wall to the north elevation of the proposed new building.” In 2021 an extension to the planning permission was requested and granted until December 2026.
The site has been empty since at least 2009. Hoardings were erected around the site between then and 2011.
The new tax will be collected by Revenue and will be payable each year. It’s different to the levy that’s currently on derelict and vacant sites in that the obligation is on the landowner to pay, not on the city to collect.
While officials have put a lot of effort into collecting those levies, it’s an administrative burden that itself has a cost for Cork City Council. Now that burden will be put on the land hoarders and speculators instead.
Revised BusConnects plans
Updated proposals for major new public transport priority measures across the city were published on Thursday, 31 March. The updated plans are now open for public consultation until 25 May, 2023.
The plans are published by the National Transport Authority (NTA) and are the second of three planned rounds of public consultation.
The revised plans really show the fruit of community engagement. New proposals for Summer Hill and Ballyhooly Road are exactly what residents had worked on with the NTA. That took hard graft and a commitment from residents to see it out. It will mean a radical reduction in traffic as well for the area, something residents have long been campaigning for.
On the Lower Glanmire Road, new amenities and public spaces were really important for residents.
That’s been confirmed in a new linear park on Horgan’s Quay and walking routes through the historic North Docks. An urban architect has been engaged to develop new public realm for St Luke’s Cross and Dillon’s Cross as well as Blackpool village. That’s the kind of uplift and investment in areas that means this is more than a transport project, it can be an investment in communities too.
Even small changes can make huge differences for communities. On Spring Lane in Blackpool, the new plans include stopping through-traffic through the lane, except for pedestrians and bicycles.
They were one of the first residents groups to engage and meet with the NTA. It’s something so small but I’m delighted to see it confirmed for them.
The broader picture of BusConnects includes a new 90-minute fare, allowing changes between buses and trains at no cost on a single journey, and new routes being rolled out across the city beginning in 2024.
In the news…
Prototype of electric train to be used in Cork is unveiled
Irish Rail have unveiled a life-size sample prototype of a new DART+ fleet carriage, which they hope to later rollout in Cork.
Echo, Friday, 31 March
Dean Hotel to switch off ‘spotlight’ after midnight
Cork city Green Party Cllr Oliver Moran said he had a regular stream of residents in contact with him about the beam of light from the Dean Hotel.
Echo, Wednesday, 22 March
New Cork city pocket park will ‘regenerate the area’
Green Party councillor Oliver Moran said the site is subject to repeated littering and, for a long time, its ownership was a source of confusion.
Echo, Sunday, 12 March
Keep in touch
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Have a great month!
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