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The Plight of East Beach Cobh

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Cobh Edition received the following from a resident of the community who’s name remains with us.

‘Isn’t it wonderful to see some buildings in Cobh getting a lick of paint, it really brings the place alive and the locals and tourists love it.

‘However, the achilles heel seems to be East Beach and further along. I walked along it this morning and counted the following unoccupied: 18 available apartments, 1 House and 7 available commercial units, and that’s just on one street!

‘Other towns over the years have understood that investing and maintaining the heritage of a town as a whole generates economic values and benefits the community.

24 West Beach: 5 apartments and 2 commercial units
1 East Beach: 6 apartments and 1 commercial unit (currently fenced off)
4 East Beach: 5 apartments and 1 commercial unit (currently fenced off) (Restaurant)
6 East Beach: Unoccupied Commercial
18 East Beach: Unoccupied Commercial
20 East Beach: Unoccupied House
22 East Beach: 2 apartments and 1 commercial units ( Restaurant & Bar)

‘This is on one street alone, and the fact that none of these properties add value to the area and the council don’t receive rates, nor do people get to live in the town centre which would benefit all businesses and the local council alike’.

Cobh Edition contacted Cllr Cathal rasmussen at short notice before publication and received the following response:

‘It is indeed sad to see that state some owners are leaving their buildings in the centre of the town. However the solution is not a simple one. As a councillor I regularly raise the issue of derelict or dangerous buildings on the full length of the town. This is a slow process and generally once a landlord is contacted about the state of the building some efforts are made to resolve the issues. Part of the difficulty is that once they make it SAFE or PRESENTABLE their is very little the council can do after that.

‘In some cases identified there are legal issues involved which is delaying development, some are in the planning phase ,some are just left there because there are little or no incentives for owners to invest heavily to restore the buildings to a suitable standard.

‘Also due to a downturn in businesses over the last few years very few businesses are looking to open along these areas. This does need to change but it needs to change at government level where proper incentives need to be put in place to allow people to buy and develop Buildings like these and provide much needed accommodation and shop units which in turn would help revitalise the town of Cobh.

‘Studies are now under way in all the towns in the county to identify streets like West Beach, East Beach and Harbour Row to try and turn all these areas into more suitable shopping and living accommodation. These studies in turn will allow councils to hopefully look for state funding In the future to help town centres like Cobh to be reborn’

We also contacted Hendrick Verwey of Cobh Tidy Towns for his views:

‘All towns need to be living towns if they are to survive and prosper. People living in a town centre generate economic activity and bring life to the area “after hours”. We see the huge problems that Dublin has because there are few tourists, way fewer office workers and there hasn’t been investment in quality inner city living spaces for couples and families. Locals in Barcelona and Amsterdam are rediscovering their cities and keeping their economies going. Dublin is dying before our eyes because not enough people are living in the city centre!’ said Mr Verwey.

‘The County Council has one very powerful instrument at their disposal to counteract the blight of vacant properties. Under the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015, local authorities are required to produce a vacant sites register. Properties on that register attract a levy of 7% per annum. That’s a powerful incentive not to leave a property idle. Are any of these properties on that register? They all qualify!! It’s up to Cork County Council to make things happen. Why aren’t they?’

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