Limerick County Council hopes to develop derelict building

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

AN eyesore in the centre of Rathkeale, which is owned by Limerick County Council is up for sale again, but this time with conditions attached.

AN eyesore in the centre of Rathkeale, which is owned by Limerick County Council is up for sale again, but this time with conditions attached.

The building stands on the left of the entrance to a supermarket car park on Main Street and was acquired several years ago by the council using its powers under the derelict sites legislation.

Various efforts to sell on the building for redevelopment came to nothing. But meantime, the building continued to deteriorate and is now in very poor condition.

A few weeks ago, things got even worse when, as a result of high winds, some slates and mortar were dislodged, forcing the council to create a safe walkway on the footpath in front.

Now, the council is once more renewing its efforts to dispose of the building.

At a meeting of Rathkeale councillors last week, senior area engineer Barry Martin explained about the work that had been done, but said: “The long-term solution is to have the site disposed of and developed.”

Since the damage and clear-up, Mr Martin said he had met with planning officers to develop a brief for the site.

Simply finding a buyer for the site would be no good to anyone, he said. “The preferred solution would be that someone would acquire it and develop it,” he said.

The challenge for the council would be how this approach could be enforced.

Director of services, Jimmy Feane said there were precedents for an approach which would take factors other than price into account in any tenders. Tender proposals could include price but also the proposed development and the time-scale.

“We can then make the best decision and not be confined by price alone,” he said and he favoured this approach for what was a sensitive location.

Cllr Kevin Sheahan welcomed the move and it was seconded by Cllr Stephen Keary who said he had received complaints about “unsavoury activities” at the rear of this building at night. “It is a hive of activity at night,” he said.

Derelict properties are a source of contention in Rathkeale and the local community council has been pressurising the county council to take stronger action on the matter and on planning enforcement generally.