Plan to build 60 Cavan Town modular houses for Ukrainian refugees | Anglo Celt

2022-07-28 14:25:26 By : Ms. Joanna Zhang

Deputy Niamh Smyth urges Department to consult to ensure resources and amenities are in place

Sixty modular houses are set to be erected in Cavan Town to provide homes for up to 200 Ukrainian refugees, The Anglo-Celt can reveal.

A greenfield site off Farnham Road has been earmarked for the ambitious proposal to provide suitable accommodation for those fleeing the Russian invasion.

The site is located beside Drumnavanagh housing estate and opposite Farnham Court apartments on the western fringe of Cavan Town.

The property is State owned, managed by the Office of Public Works (OPW). Under an EU directive, given the exceptional circumstances it's understood the usual lengthy planning process can be circumvented.

The modular houses are reportedly high spec bungalows, with a BER rating of A2 and have a life expectancy of 60 years. Each will have a back garden and frontage and will meet all the existing criteria of modern housing estates. The Cavan plan is part of a larger initiative which will see a total of 500 such modular units constructed across the Republic.

It is anticipated that agreements with the contractor will be finalised within two weeks and work on the Cavan project could commence swiftly, with the first families possibly housed within months.

The housing solution for refugees is being led by the Department of Children, who discussed the matter with local political representatives at a hastily convened Zoom meeting today (Thursday).

Speaking after the meeting, Deputy Niamh Smyth struck a balanced position, commending the quality of housing proposed, but eager that resources are put in place to ensure the new arrivals successfully integrate.

"I did make it clear to the Department that if this is not done right and done well, it will prove more challenging," she cautioned.

She insists that the "wrap around services" must be in place to ensure the estate is "well received" locally.

The Fianna Fáil TD was impressed by the quality of the proposed housing, lay out, landscaping, lighting and linkages, describing it as "top notch" and comparable to any council housing estate.

According to latest figures, 780 people forced to flee war torn Ukraine currently reside in County Cavan, many in hotel or B&B accommodation. According to Deputy Smyth it was confirmed by Minister Roderic O'Gorman the homes will be for additional refugees, bringing the Cavan number close to 1,000.

Deputy Niamh Smyth urged the Department of Children to ensure they engage "in a meaningful way" with their colleagues in the Departments of Health and Education and also with Cavan County Council.

"I'm not convinced that the Department has fully engaged with our local authority, Cavan County Council and its housing department and community department and other sections who can answer important questions for the OPW on our capacity to absorb a new population of people in Cavan Town."

She added that the proposed site is zoned under the County Development Plan as "open", intended for "amenities".

"There's lots of people living in the area already with small families who don't have the amenities; and all Ukrainian refugees who have been savagely uprooted from their homes, families, friends and country deserve decent standards of accommodation and amenities."

Deputy Smyth contends the site should include recreational space available for use by "the entire community".

"Perhaps that could be a way of, not only bringing new people into the area, but integrating them. Integration is hugely important in all of this, so it's not an 'us and them' and we don't create ghettoes.

"It needs to bring new communities and existing ones together, and the only way you will ever do that is with open spaces and amenities., that people have something to engage in, because there is going to be that language barrier, but when it comes to kids and play, then language isn't a barrier."

The OPW site on Farnham Road had originally been earmarked in the early 2000s for the Fianna Fáil led government's ambitious decentralisation project. However, the plan to establish the Department of Marine in Cavan Town was shelved.

Cavan County Council had already planned to temporarily accommodate refugees with fold out beds in the Cavan Leisure Centre's gymnasium at Ardkeen in emergency circumstances.