Monday 3 September 2007

'Wet house' building plan shelved

A PLAN to build a 'wet house' for homeless people has been shelved after opposition from local residents.

The Novas Initiatives organisation had been promised a grant of €1.1m from the Government to open a 10-bed facility in two former residential houses in Thurles, Co Tipperary.

However, it sparked off a large protest from residents who had not been consulted about the move and feared it would bring drug addicts and alcoholics into their area.

Independent TD Michael Lowry said the company had agreed to a compromise proposal which would cater for homeless people who did not have alcohol or drug problems.

The purchase of No 55 and No 56 Mitchel Street for €290,000 and €270,000 respectively was carried out by private treaty last April. It was only later that residents learned the houses had been sold to the Novas Initiatives organisation

Under the compromise proposal, one of the houses will be bought back by North Tipperary County Council for use in its housing programme.

The other house will be used by Novas Initiatives to house homeless people, on condition they are from the Thurles area and do not have addiction problems. This will be discussed with local residents at a meeting next week.

The €1m grant from the Department of the Environment is expected to be withdrawn.

Mr Lowry said the plan to build a wet house in Mitchel Street had been badly handled from the start.

"There was no prior consultation either with public representatives or local residents. As a result, it has become a divisive issue."

However, the Mitchell Street Residents and Business Association said it wanted the project abandoned altogether.

Its spokeswoman Cait Breathnach, who owns a local butchers shop next door with her husband, said that enough anxiety and fear had been brought upon the area.

"Many of our retired citizens, having worked hard and paid their dues pre-Celtic Tiger, are entitled to a bit of tranquility in their twilight years."

However, Mrs Breathnach added residents in Mitchell Street were not motivated simply by 'NIMBY-ism' (Not in My Back Yard).

Irish Independent

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