***The year in review***
AFTER years of delays and controversies, along with expenditure of more than €5 million of taxpayers’ money, a relatively humble 22-bed affordable and step-down housing development was finally completed.
The project at Glaise na Rinne was controversial as far back as 2007, before construction ever began, as residents of Cluain Airne claimed the site was inappropriate, as the development was going onto a local green area.
Five years later – a period during which the residential property market collapsed, removing the need for specific affordable housing developments – it was finally completed.
Of the 22 houses, 16 are affordable housing and the other six are step-down units. The most expensive of the affordable units are priced at €102,000, while an average of €230,000 was spent on providing each house, meaning huge losses.
At a council meeting in November, Shannon town manager and Clare County Council director of housing, Bernadette Kinsella gave some details of the expenditure on the project, revealing the total had come to €5.061m.
She claimed there was quite a good level of interest in the houses, with a number of applications for both the affordable and step-down units. Prior to this, the council had been forced to reduce the prices of the affordable units, with the four beds going from €135,000 to €102,000 and the three beds dropping from €125,000 to €93,000.
At the time, the town manager acknowledged that too much had been sought.
“When the original affordable prices were set back in February 2012, the market in the Shannon area was stronger than most areas of Clare. This was supported by a strong rental market. Since then, there has been a significant balancing of house prices and they are now clearly in line with prices in the urban area of Ennis.
“It has also become clear that while additional costs were incurred in constructing the properties to a high energy rating, this has not had a big influence on a purchaser’s decision, when considering whether or not to purchase.”
In 2010, a contract with Paddy Burke Builders Ltd was terminated and then, in the spring of this year, a receiver was appointed to Atlantic Developments Ltd, the company that took over from Paddy Burke.
In a statement to The Clare Champion at the time, Independent Councillor Gerry Flynn said it was very bad news.
“I was informed by the council that they were only a few weeks away from completion, that there were a couple of items outstanding and there were a number of snagging issues. The bottom line is that it’s fierce disappointing.
“The saga of Glaise na Rinne seems to rumble on. A lot of people are saying that it should never have happened. It produced an awful lot of anger in the community, has created a huge headache for the council and has cost the council a fortune.”
Earlier this year, a spokesman for Galway firm Conrock Ltd told The Clare Champion they had been left €60,000 short, after twice carrying out works on the development for contractors who went out of business.
While it was originally envisaged that another 38 houses would be built on the site after the first phase of 22 was completed, it now seems unlikely that any further units will be built there.