Publications

Housing and Building

How budget is spent:

Payroll - € 1,541,266
Operational - € 1,714,150
Administration - € 61,000
Establishment - € 154,830
Financial - € 844,740
Miscellaneous - € 0

Sources of funding:

State Grant & Subsidies - € 1,175,000
Goods and Services - € 2,053,000
Rates - € 725,570
Local Government Fund - € 362,416

Introduction

The Housing Section is responsible for providing a quality housing service to the people of Sligo. The following paragraphs outline how resources were used in 2007 and the requirements for the year ahead.

Housing Capital Programme

Sligo Borough Council has an obligation as a Housing Authority to deliver a social and affordable housing capital programme to meet the needs of those in need on the Housing List who are not in a position to provide adequate and suitable accommodation from their own resources. To achieve this it is necessary to secure a land bank and procure this through the design, planning and construction stages to result in an annual output which goes towards meeting the targets as set out.

Sligo Borough Council is proceeding with its capital programme in accordance with the Social and Affordable Housing Action Plan 2004-2008, as agreed with the DOEHLG in December 2004 which sets targets for the Borough Council to deliver a specified number of units per year across a range of housing options such as social, affordable, voluntary and part V’s. The council is in further discussions with DOEHLG regarding the future years up to 2010 where it is expected that a rolling programme will be in operation on the basis of three year programmes starting with 2008-2010.

Delivery on the targets set out in the Action Plans sets a challenge to the Council in terms of securing and procuring adequate and suitable land and negotiating with both developers and the Voluntary Housing sector. The recent vibrant economic climate, while positive in many aspects, has lead to an increase in house and land prices which has a direct affect on the delivery of social and affordable housing programmes.

Social Housing Starts

The Borough Council has met its targets for 2004, 2005 (collectively) and 2006. Targets for 2007 have not been met due to a prolonged dialogue with the DOEHLG on the design for the Maugheraboy scheme. It is anticipated that this scheme will proceed in 2008, however, as a mix of social and affordable units.

The tables set out hereunder lists current and proposed housing schemes:

RECENT HOUSING CAPITAL SCHEMES
Location of Scheme Number of Units House Type Status of Scheme at December 2006
Elm Gardens, Ballytivnan 4 2 bed Completed
Abbey Street 5 3 bed Due for completion end Dec 07
Mail Coach Road 4 2 bed Due for completion April 08
Sea Road 12 2 bed On site, estimated completion by end 08

Rathbraughan

24

2/3/4 bed

On site, estimated completion by end 08

St Edwards/Barrack St

2

2 bed

Completed

PROPOSED HOUSING CAPITAL SCHEMES
Location of Scheme Description 
Maugheraboy

Mix of social and affordable proposed, design discussions ongoing with DOEHLG

Rosses Point Rd Social scheme of 2 bed units with own door access
Strandhill Rd Social scheme of 2 bed units with own door access
Ballinode Mix of social and affordable units through PPP process
Fr Flanagan Tce maisonettes Consideration on replacement of existing 18 units with new social and/or
affordable units. Mix of 2 and 3 bed, own door access
Doorly Park maisonettes Consideration on replacement of existing 33 units with new social and/or affordable
units. Mix of 2 and 3 bed, own door access

Part V

Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, has provided a welcome opportunity to Housing  Authorities to secure land, housing units or money to assist with delivering the Housing Capital programme.  Negotiations have been ongoing with developers in respect of all applications which are located in the area zoned for residential development within the Sligo and Environs Area.

The Housing Strategy states that 20% of eligible sites, which are the subject of new residential development, is to be set aside for the development of social and affordable housing. The Developer has a menu of options for compliance within this requirement but the policy of the council is clear in that the preferred option of the Housing Authority is to take units on site to be social or affordable or a mix of same depending on design, layouts, site suitability etc.

Within the Sligo and Environs area the type of development proposals which are presenting is mainly of a mixed commercial and residential nature and will be the subject of Management Company arrangements. The council has a policy of not becoming involved in Management companies for legal and budgetary reasons. In instances such as this the council has taken the opportunity to engage with the Voluntary Housing Sector to develop proposals to meet special housing needs in very attractive locations close to all services.

The funding for Part V social and voluntary units is obtained from the DOEHLG while the handing over of the affordable units is by the direct sales method whereby the developer sells directly to the approved applicant at the agreed discounted price.

The table below sets out the part v units achieved to date in Sligo Borough:

Year

Social

Affordable

Voluntary

2004 6 - -
2005 25 8 -
2006 25 - -
2007 - 1 14

Eligibility for the Part V Housing Scheme is broadly based. There is no income limit as such, provided a person is unable to purchase a property in the private market where their mortgage repayments would be below 35% of their net income.

The Affordable Housing Scheme targets people with low to middle incomes and primarily aimed at first time buyers. A single applicant can earn up to €40,000. For a two-income household, eligibility is based on the combined values of 2.5 times the larger salary plus the smaller salary below €100,000.

Under a joint allocation with Sligo County Council, 5 units have been allocated to applicants off the SBC Affordable Housing List at The Hawthorns, Carraroe which is another Part V development with a possible further allocation of 3-4 units at Farnacardy before the end of the year.

Remedial Works Programme

A large element of the housing capital activity in the Borough is through the remedial works/refurbishment programme. Due to the nature of some of the older estates in the Borough a programme of refurbishment has been necessary to bring them up to an acceptable modern standard.

In addition the private houses in these estates are offered the opportunity of availing of the 50/50 scheme where certain approved works are 50% funded by the council from internal capital receipts. The balance is to be funded by the applicant Eligible works include roofs, fascia, soffit, gutters, front windows and doors, plastering and painting externally to front and boundary walls.

Sligo Borough Council’s housing and architects departments had a very busy year dealing with Garavogue and St Josephs schemes on site and the culmination of many years input at the signing of contracts for three new schemes at St Brigids Terrace, Jinks Ave and also St Edwards Terrace.

The tables below summarise the position regarding Remedial Works:

Location of Scheme Status of Scheme at November 2006
St Josephs Tce (phase 1) Completed
St Josephs Tce (phase 2) Completed
St Josephs Tce (phase 3) Nearing completion, Correspondence with the DOEHLG re inclusion for funding of underground wiring and new paving.
Garavogue Villas Nearing completion. Submission with DOEHLG re funding for 3 additional houses
Jinks Ave On site and progressing
St Brigid’s Place On site and progressing
St Edwards Tce

On site and progressing

Cranmore Regeneration- Review of 2007 and Plans for 2008

2007 has seen important changes for the Cranmore Regeneration Project in terms of the size, scope and shape of the project. The following are the key issues which have occurred which will influence the Regeneration Projects Plans for 2008.

Projects approved

Over 2007 Sligo Borough Council has made a series of submissions to the Department of Environment Heritage and Local Government resulting in approval for a number of projects. These include; funding for the development of sports facilities at Cleveragh; approval for the acquistion and demolition of the Centre Block; the redevelopment of the mounds and funding for the redevelopment of Cranmore Place. Plans are currently being developed for each of these projects. Additionally there has been progress in relation to the RAPID CCTV Programme which should be fully installed by early 2008 with a proportion of the match funding supported by the Regeneration Project. Funding has also been secured in relation to the implementation of a number of actions under the Sustaining Communities Fund(more details below). Other projects delivered on by SBC in 2007 based on issues identified through the consultation for the Regeneration Project include the completion of a series of Traffic Calming Measures delivered by SBC Roads Section and the successful finalisation of a Central Heating programme for SBC tenants delivered by the Housing Maintenance Section. In 2007 the Regeneration Office moved to a more central location at 7 Devins Drive.

New Strategic Approach

Whilst there has been progress in relation to a variety of projects, a review of the Cranmore Regeneration Draft Framework Plan (submitted by SBC to the DEHLG in June 2006) by the Department’s Housing and Spatial Planning Units has emphasized the importance of integrating Cranmore into the wider hinterland, in the context of development, of Sligo as a Gateway City through the preparation of a much larger Area Action Plan. The DOEHLG has directed that Sligo Borough Council submits a revised Framework Plan which adopts strategic approach to the wider issues that impact on the regeneration of Cranmore in particular in relation to linkages between the estate and the surrounding environs. The revised Masterplan should take into account the broader planning objectives for the area including the proposed bridge and distributor route linking the Eastern parts of the City and the inclusion of lands adjacent to the area and must include a PPP assessment.

Social Regeneration Plan – Interagency working in practice

In recognition of the need to take an interagency approach to the quality of life issues which affect people on a daily basis a Social Regeneration Plan was also completed in September 2007. This plan was devised by the Social Working Group, chaired by the DSFA and involving both community representatives and all of the key public and community based providers which deliver services that impact on quality of life issues in Cranmore. The plan includes objectives in relation to education, employment, community development, family supports, housing and estate management, crime and policing, opportunities for young people and sport and recreation. It examines the services and programmes which are already in place and how these existing resources can be integrated to maximize their impact. It incorporates a series of targeted interventions aimed at improved co-ordination, community development or addressing gaps in the delivery of services.

The Regeneration Project has successfully applied for funding from the Sustaining Communities Fund in order to implement a number of important elements of the Social Plan over the next three years including a Community Wardens Scheme, A Youth Development Programme and aTenancy Sustainment Support Officer. These programmes will be delivered in partnership with other local agencies. The Department has agreed to fund 90% of these projects, requiring a 10% match funding contribution.

Community Development and Estate Management Initiatives

Over 2007 a number of Estate Management Initatives have been supported by SBC Regeneration Project in conjunction with other agencies and organisations. The Regeneration Office has provided support to the Cranmore Community Co-operative, the Resource House Project, Abbeyquarter Centre and the various residents associations to deliver on a number of project and events to enhance the area. Amongst these were Best Kept Garden Competitions, support for Community Carnival and Family events, training support for Community representatives, support for resident’s association environmental initiatives, minor structural enhancements and planters/floral barrels to enhance the area.

On-going grass cutting and waste management initiatives have taken place over the year and it is envisaged that these will continue in 2008. A Community Safety Taskforce has been established under the auspices of the Social Working Group in order to monitor and implement a number of the objectives in the social plan in relation to Crime and Policing. This working group has been highly instrumental in relation to promoting interagency co-operation in relation to community policing issue and is facilitated by the RAPID Co-ordinator and Estate Officer. It is also proposed in 2008 to organise a series of localised sport and recreation initiatives in conjunction with Sligo Sports and Recreation Partnership and other agencies in order to promote healty lifestyles and positive participation in community activities.

Regeneration Agency

In response to direction from the DoEHLG and in line with the Department’s policy outlined in ‘Delivering Homes and Sustaining Communities’, Sligo Borough Council is in the process of establishing a Regeneration Agency to drive the Regeneration project and togalvanise agencies at local level to ensure that interventions in the Regeneration area are focused on a common aim. This agency will becharged with addressing the strategic planning objectives in the area, in addition to responding to social and community issues  identified and emerging.  It is envisaged that the existing groups will continue to act in an advisory capacity to the agency. Relevant staff will be recruited to service this agency on the approval of the Department

Traveller Accommodation

The Traveller Accommodation Programme 2005-2008 was adopted in 2005. The plan projects that a total of 30 units are to be provided in the Sligo borough area. Standard local authority units will be sought at various locations throughout the Borough. The redesign scheme at at Alma Tce., Finisklin is to accommodate a 5 bay transient halting site is currently underway. It is expected that Glenview Park will also be reviewed with different options and accommodation types to be considered.

As part of the Traveller Accommodation Programme, the Sligo Local Authorities have carried out a needs assessment with the Traveller Community in Sligo. As a follow on from this a review of the Traveller Accommodation Programme will take place in late 2007.

The Sligo County Development Board facilitated the development of a strategic plan to enhance inter-agency co-operation in the delivery of service and supports to the Traveller Community. An Interagency Strategy was agreed to streamline and improve the delivery of services to the Traveller Community. Thematic areas included, accommodation, health, youth services, education and training, childcare. Actions agreed to improve the delivery of accommodation services include:

  • To assist the Sligo Local Authorities in the implementation and review of the Traveller Accommodation Programme 2005- 2008 and subsequent programmes.
  • To establish an Inter-Agency Tenancy Support Programme to assist travellers to maintain and sustain tenancies
  • Improving living conditions on halting sites and access to services on halting sites.
  • Incorporate the needs of traveller children into the Play & Recreation Plan.

A steering committee made up of representatives of all the agencies involved in the provision of services oversees the implementation of the action plan and the work is ongoing.

Central Heating Scheme

Up to the 1st December 2007 heating and ancillary works were carried out in our dwellings in the following areas.  For clarity I am including the actual numbers carried out in 2006 which differed slightly to those recorded in the Draft Budget 2007 document.

Two other properties are scheduled for completion in 2007.

Ward Estate Number in 2006 Number in 2007
East Ward Cranmore Estates 47 44
East Ward Doorly Park 11  
North Ward Fr Flanaghan Terrace 8  
West Ward Houses completed by the end of 2005

It was our intention to complete this Central Heating Scheme in 2007 however our contractors were refused access to carry out the proposed central heating installation in seven of our dwellings in the East Ward and one dwelling This completes Sligo Borough Councils Central Heating Programme with the exception of the houses in St Brigids in the West Ward. Sligo Borough Council have endeavoured to finalise these without success to date.

It should be noted that when the ongoing Remedial Works Schemes to pre 1 960, houses and the Cranmore Regeneration Scheme are completed there should be a reduction in the cost of repairs and improvements which will allow Sligo Borough Council progress on a cyclical planned approach to the maintenance and upgrading of its dwellings.

As stated last year, the replacement of windows and external doors is an area of concern and the programme of  replacement was commenced in 2007. The Replacement Programme in the following estates is now completed:

  • St. John’s Terrace,
  • Abbeyville,
  • Cartron Estate,
  • Cairns Drive,
  • Hazelgrove,
  • Ashgrove and
  • Beechlawn.

At the 21st November 2007 work had commenced by the Contractor on the following estates:

  • Maugheraboy Estate,
  • Yeats Heights,
  • Chapel Hill,
  • Seaview Drive,
  • Seafield Avenue and
  • Fatima Avenue.

It is now proposed subject to the availability of funds to carry out Phase 5 and Phase 6 of this Replacement Programme in 2008. Quotations were sought for these phases in November/December 2007. The following estates are included:

Phase 5:  Oak Park, Oakfield Crescent, Oakfield Park, Rathbraughan Park, Summerhill Village, Heatherview, Crozon Park, Crozon Crescent and Crozon Downes.

Phase 6:  Abbey Court, Riverview Lodge, Willow Park and O’Dwyer Court (Provisional)

On completion of this Replacement Programme it is intended to complete the Housing Stock Survey and programme other works to improve the standard and appearance of Sligo Borough Council houses.

Rental Accommodation Scheme

In July 2004, the Government announced a new initiative, the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS). This initiative proposed to transfer to local authorities responsibility for housing persons in receipt of Supplementary Welfare Allowance Rent Supplement who are deemed to have a long term housing need. The Scheme will be implemented over a four year period, with the Housing Authority progressively taking over responsibility for persons who have been in receipt of a rent supplement on a continuous basis for over 18 months. At present there are approximately 105 recipients of rent supplement in the Borough area.

Within a four year timeframe, from the commencement of the arrangements in each local authority, rent supplement recipients assessed as having long term housing needs will be catered for through accommodation based approaches rather than rent supplement. Funding will be provided to local authorities to support the cost of the new accommodation based scheme through the redirection of resources from the rent supplement scheme.

The scheme will operate as follows:
  • The Housing Authority will source and lease suitable accommodation from the private rented sector.
  • A three-way contract will be entered into by the local authority/landlord/tenant.
  • Housing Authorities will be allocated funds that would otherwise have been spent on paying rent allowances for households accommodated through the new arrangements.
  • The Housing Authority will pay the full rent to the landlord, and a contribution towards rent will be payable by the tenant to the Housing Authority.
  • Housing Authorities will be paid an administration fee per unit of €300 in year one and €200 each year thereafter.
  • Tenants will continue to be eligible for social housing, if they so desire.
  • Tenancies will be required to be registered with the Private Rented Tenancies Board.
  • Accommodation providers must be tax compliant and will be required to produce evidence to local authorities.
  • Accommodation will be required to meet minimum standards.

The RAS Unit is staffed by a Senior Staff Officer and an Assistant Staff Officer who implements and manages the Scheme and these staff took up duty in October 2006. In 2007 twenty landlords and 60 Rent Supplement recipients were contacted or visited with a view to transferring to RAS on a phased basis for both Sligo County Council and Sligo Borough Council. An expenditure amount of € 50,000 is included under this heading for 2008 to cover the administration costs.

Housing Adaptation Grant Schemes

The Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government carried out a review of the Disabled Persons and Essential Repairs Grants Schemes and has introduced a new framework of grant aid to assist with the housing needs of older people and people with a disability with effect from November 2007. The three new schemes to replace the existing grant schemes are; a Housing Adaptation Grant for people with a disability, which will assist with the provision /adaptation of accommodation to meet the needs of people with a disability; a Mobility Aids Housing Grant Scheme, which will fast track grant aid toaddress mobility problems primarily associated with ageing; and a scheme of Housing Aid for Older People, which will provide targeted support to improve conditions in the existing housing of older people. The HSE will continue to administer the latter scheme until 31 March 2008, at which time this function will transfer to local authorities. The maximum grant available under the Housing Adaptaion Grant Scheme for people with a disability is €30,000.

The Housing Aid for the Older People Scheme is 80% recoupable. The maximum grant available is € 1 0,500 which may cover 1 00% of the cost of works. The local authority can recoup 80% of the grant paid or € 8,400 which ever is the lesser. The maximum grant payable under the Mobility Aid Grant Scheme is 6,000 or 1 00% of the cost of the works, whichever is the lesser.

Estate Management Programme

Sligo Borough Council has an Estate Management Unit made up of 3 Estate Officers. The officers act as a liaison between the local authority and its tenants. Sligo Borough Council’s Estate Officers provide a range of different services for its tenants in accordance with good estate management practice. Estate Officers provide support and assistance as required to residents’ groups within their estates and work closely to support initiatives. Examples of initiatives undertaken include estate clean ups, production of estate newsletters and organising programmes such as public arts projects and other community based projects. The Estate Officers also run pre-tenancy courses and on-going training for residents’ committees. Other programmes include use of specialist trainers for areas such as conflict mediation and parenting courses. Estate Officers also help to control incidents of anti-social behaviour on estates by setting up Neighbourhood Watch Groups in association with the Gardai. In addition to the above a Housing Investigation Officer is also employed by both authorities to investigate antisocial behaviour relating to the councils tenants and properties.

Homelessness

Sligo Borough Council works with specialised agencies to provide accommodation for homeless persons. The agencies include Sligo Social Services and Finisklin Housing Association Limited.

Expenditure relating to accommodation of homeless persons is estimated at € 550,000 for 2008. These costs are 90% recoupable from the Department of Environment Heritage and Local Government, therefore income is estimated at € 495,000.