With the next two phases of the Cox’s Regeneration Scheme getting underway, the person who had overseen the previous phase has now left Louth County Council.
Speaking at the Municipal meeting earlier this week, Sinn Féin Councillor Edel Corrigan sought clarification on who would be overseeing the Regeneration project. “I was told that a new Department had been formed within Louth County Council and they would be taking up the mantle and a new design team is in the process of being appointed. Unfortunately, this is the first time I have heard of this new department so that’s not a good start in the communication process.”
Cllr Corrigan said “It is of the utmost importance that there is very early engagement with the people from the area. The local residents and communities are on the ground and know what needs to be done, their input is essential for this regeneration Scheme to be successful.”
“Regeneration of any area is supposed to benefit the people of that area and unless the new design team and the new department engage with the people and groups who have already invested time and energy into improving their community then they are wasting their time. Now is the time, at this very early stage, to build those lines of communication and trust and for the local authority to show they are willing to commit to the success of this Project as much as the people of the area.”
Councillor Corrigan is calling on the Council to “hold a public meeting in the area to inform people of what is happening and to provide contacts for issues, concerns or contributions to the Regeneration Scheme and to encourage local people to get involved in the process.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Imelda Munster has described the government’s new “Urban Regeneration Bill” as shocking and as having a Thatcherite approach which will bring an end to direct council social housing provision.
Cllr Munster said “It is in effect a wholesale privatisation of social housing. At a recent meeting members of the CPG (Corporate Policy Group) in Louth were told local authorities will not be given any more funding to build social housing. Instead, housing delivery and sourcing will be through private developers through leasing and voluntary housing bodies from 2017 onwards.”
Cllr Munster continued “this new bill clearly shows that the government parties are backing the ‘boom and bust’ policies that led to the crisis by enticing private developers by giving them concessions and allowing them to forgo obligations under Part 5. This bill has halved to 10% the amount of land zoned for residential use that must be set aside for social and affordable housing.”
“It also states that affordable housing schemes shall not be agreed to by planning authorities and also allows developers to opt out of their obligation to transfer 10% (reduced from 20% in the bill)of any development to the ownership of local authorities. They would instead lease the proportion of any development to councils. This will result in an end to direct council house provision and cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions of Euro every year in paying developers and private landlords taxpayers money to lease houses. Outsourcing to private developers and landlords will mean families will never get a home they can call their own and they will be easy prey to unscrupulous landlords and further compound the housing crisis we are currently in and the huge distress it is causing thousands of families in Louth alone.”
Cllr Munster said “if this is the government’s response to the housing crisis then it will serve to increase homelessness and only benefit developers and landlords who are set to make millions on the backs of the taxpayer and every individual forced into private rented accommodation.”