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Friday, September 22, 2023

Carlow Nationalist — Council seeks one-bed units for housing in Bagenalstown

CARLOW County Council is on the look-out for one- and two-bed properties in Bagenalstown to fulfil the local housing need. Housing officer Brian O’Donovan asked local councillors that if they knew of anyone who had one- or two-bed units in the town centre to encourage them to take up the council’s ‘Buy and Renew’ and ‘Repair and Lease’ schemes.

The former is where the council buys a property in need of repair and converts it into housing, while the latter involves property owners receiving a grant of up to €80,000 to renovate a dwelling and subsequently entering a long-term lease agreement with the council.

At a recent meeting of Bagenalstown Municipal District, cllr Willie Quinn questioned the need for one-bed housing, highlighting that in previous years the local authority had preferred two-bed properties.

“If someone needed a carer, there is nowhere for them to stay,” he said. “I thought the cost was minimal between them (one- or two-beds).”

Mr O’Donovan said the housing market had changed, with many people in their 30s, 40s and 50s seeking a one-bed. “They can’t afford rent and they have a one-bed requirement. They are entirely happy with a one-bed,” he said.

Mr O’Donovan noted that 50% of the Carlow town housing list was also for a one-bed property.

Sinn Féin’s cllr Andy Gladney agreed that one-bed units were in short supply, remarking that he knew one man who has having difficulty finding a such a property.

Mr O’Donovan said there are around 70 premises in the centre of Bagenalstown.

Cllr Quinn was wary about turning all vacant buildings in a town centre into housing as it would restrict where new businesses could open in the future. “You’ll have to leave some place for business to start,” said the Borris councillor.

Agreeing, Mr O’Donovan said it was a balancing act. However, he noted that vacant commercial properties nationally are on the increase.

“Are we going to restore every shop in the town centre? The answer at the moment is no. That is not the way towns are changing,” he said. “We are not damaging the streetscape; we want to improve it and bring life back.”

Mr O’Donovan added that a ground floor in a repair and lease project in Carlow town was designated for a business.

Cllr Quinn asked whether the ground floor in these town-centre developments could be kept for businesses, but Mr O’Donovan said that relied on a presumption that you would attract them in the first place. “We have towns in the southeast where entire quarters are boarded up,” he added.

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