Residents of an Ashbourne housing scheme who dipped into their own pockets to the tune of €5000 to renovate and restore
a courtyard to an award winning standard have been left angry and shocked after being told by the housing association who own the complex that it will be demolished at the end of this month.
The occupants of the Killegland Walk Apartments, in the centre of the town, refurbished what was a barren wasteland into an amenity where people can relax either individually or in a group setting, taking the time to decorate the place with flower beds and hanging baskets as well as providing seating.
The complex is owned by the Respond housing association and ironically they sent out gardening and bio diversity experts to help with the work they are now demanding be demolished.
A puzzled Hugh McConnell, treasurer of the committee who oversaw the work, told Meath Live, ‘What I would like to know is why they waited until the work was completed before they demanded it be taken down.
‘They knew from the start what was going on and not alone did they never ask us to stop they actually send out experts in the gardening area from a company called Shíolta Chzio to help us.
‘Work started during Covid and as we finished on June 16th last year we named it Bloomsday Garden.
‘Put it to you like this if somebody was building a hotel next door to you and you had a problem with you would address the issue as soon as work started not wait until it finished.
‘We have won two Pride Of Place awards for Meath with what we have done and nobody can tell me we have done anything other than improve an area that was unusable before we improved it..’
Committee chairman Matthew Meagher said, ‘There were weeds growing three feet high before we moved in and cleaned it up. We sent a letter to every single apartment advising what we were going to do and asking for a fiver a month to cover the costs.We also assured anyone who didn’t want to contribute that they were still very welcome to use the facility..
‘Not one person suggested they had a problem, with what we were doing, so why do Respond suddenly have an issue with it,’
In the letter, signed by John O’Sullivan, their deputy head of housing, Respond cite clause 3.17 in the residents tenancy agreement which lists a number of things that cannot be erected items such as television aerials, sheds, out offices and garden fencing among those things that are prohibited.
None of the banned items were visible when Meath Live visited earlier today.
Local councillor Joe Bonner is backing the residents, he said, ‘What they have done is construct the very model of what a complexes courtyard should look like and certainly if anything ,they have added value to the building rather than detract from it.
‘In the letter Respond have given residents until the 27th of June to remove any of their property as they intend to start deconstructing the works at the end of the month.
‘That gives us a window of opportunity where the two sides can get together and work out a resolution.
A spokesperson for Respond told us, ‘Respond would like to clarify that the issue does not relate to the overall garden project but specifically an unauthorised shed which was constructed on land owned by the Owners Management Company (OMC), without permission in the summer of 2022. This structure does not have planning permission and is not covered by insurance. It raises health & safety concerns, particularly as it has, on occasion, been supplied with electricity from the main apartment building without the supervision of a qualified electrician. Respond have received complaints from both tenants and the managing agents.
‘Over the past 12 months, we have been actively engaged with tenants on this issue. As part of this, we requested the managing agent responsible for the removal of the shed postpone any immediate action. Respond engaged the services of a mediator in September 2022 to facilitate constructive dialogue between all parties involved. Unfortunately, despite several months of mediation, a satisfactory solution could not be reached.’