Reports re Mortgage to rent, Sports Field Athy, Castles Athy, New Secondary School Monasterevin – Wall 

Councillor Wall

Can the council confirm the number of mortgage to rent schemes that they have had an involvement in, are they offering this scheme to their own tenants, are they aware of any other potential schemes or assistance for their tenants who may be in difficulty with their rent/mortgage at this time?

Report: The Council is in constant contact with the Housing Agency and approved housing bodies in assessing and reviewing potential mortgage to rent cases. Irrespective of whether the household has a mortgage with a local authority or with a private financial institute, the main points of the scheme are that:

• Borrowers must be unable to make repayments on the Mortgage Loan and the lender must have decided that this situation is unlikely to change in the future.

• Borrowers must be engaging with the lender to try to find a solution to the situation.

• Borrowers must have completed the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP) with the lender.

• The household must be eligible for social housing support in the local authority in whose area the house is located including the relevant income limits for the local authority area in question.

• The property must be in negative equity

• The property must be valued at less than €180,000

To date the Council has completed seven mortgage to rent cases through approved housing bodies. A number of cases with local authority mortgages are progressing although none have completed. Borrowers who have difficulties with their mortgage are always advised to make contact with the lending institute initially to explore their options.

Councillor Wall

Given the impending development of the Southern Distributor Road in Athy and previous motions and correspondence with the council, that the local authority identify, promote and develop community playing pitches in the town.

Report: Any additional open space required for recreational needs in Athy would need to be identified as part of the Local Area Plan for the town first and zoned accordingly. Resources would then have to be identified to acquire and develop the land.

Councillor Wall

That the council confirm if they have made any plans for the historic site at Woodstock Castle, Athy and any such plans be linked to Whites Castle in the centre of the town given the importance of both sites to the town.

Report: White’s Castle and Woodstock Castle are included on the Register of Protected Structures for County Kildare. White’s Castle is also located within the Athy Architectural Conservation Area and Zone of Archaeological Potential. Any works proposed for either of these Protected Structures must be supervised by a Conservation Architect as they are medieval in origin and require consent from the National Monument Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The statutory duty of care for repair and maintenance of a protected Structure and its grounds are the responsibility of the owner/occupier. In the case of Woodstock Castle, it is in public ownership and maintained by the Council. However, White’s Castle is in private ownership. As a result, the duty of care for the maintenance and upkeep of the Castle and its grounds lies with the owner.

Peter Black, Kildare County Council’s Architectural Conservation Officer, visited both sites on 3rd March 2015 and undertook an initial exterior visual inspection. Interior access was not gained to either castle. The inspection indicated that neither Protected Structure appeared to be in a state of collapse. The Council’s Environment Department have also undertaken a recent visual inspection of White’s Castle. This inspection also concluded that White’s Castle is not derelict and does not appear to be dangerous.

The Athy Town Development Plan 2012-2018 recognises that there is a significant potential to develop and improve the amenity of Greenfield recreational areas in the town including the area surrounding Woodstock Castle and the gardens of White’s Castle as a tourist and local amenity. A public Right of Way exists linking Edmund Rice Square and Woodstock Castle.

The Town Development Plan contains an objective to link the green spaces associated with White’s Castle and Woodstock Castle and other key spaces within the town through a network of pedestrian and cyclist routes. The implementation of this objective is subject to design, consent and budget. Due to budgeting priorities and constraints, the Council is not in a position to pursue this objective.

The Council is happy to discuss any future development proposals for White’s Castle with its owner.

 Councillor Wall

Can the council confirm the contact they have had with the Department of

Education and Skills regarding the potential site for the proposed St Paul’s Secondary School in Monasterevin?

Report: The council has been in consultation with the Department of Education and Skills regarding a proposed site for St. Paul’s Secondary School since 2011. Consultation and advices given were conducted in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Education and Skills and the City and County Managers’ Association on acquisition of sites for school planning purposes. The Planning Department facilitated a pre-planning meeting regarding the proposed development (PP2831) on the 15th December, 2014. A planning application has not been received to date for the proposed development.

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