The long-awaited adoption of the Sligo East City Cranmore and Environs Regeneration Masterplan finally took place on Monday, 12 years after work first began on it.
The plan was originally for just the Cranmore estate, but was later expanded to include surrounding areas, including St Anne’s, Doorly Park, Martin Savage Terrace, Garavogue Villas and Cleveragh.
The government has allocated a total of just over €16 million for a number of projects which are to be delivered over the next three to eight years.
However, a meeting of Sligo County Council on Monday was told that it was hoped more money could be got over the next few years to implement more parts of the plan.
Major changes have already taken place at the Cranmore estate in recent years, with a total of 73 houses demolished to create extra space. It still has 430 homes, making it the largest local authority estate in the North West with 14 drives/streets.
Councillors were told that the achievements to date have been “considerable”, with refurishments, landscape improvements, a regeneration office, community warden scheme, improved level of services, estate management, tenancy support, sports and art initiatives, community development, reduction in anti-social behaviour and growth in housing demand.
The overall plan is divided into Social, Economic and Physical plans and is aimed at addressing disadvantage in the area. The Regeneration Vision in the plan is: “To make the area a more attractive place to live with better, convenient connections to existing and new facilities, locally and in the rest of Sligo.
“To enable individuals and communities in the area to avail of emerging opportunities and access to employment, education, health and family support services.
“To secure the area as a location of choice for future generations in to live, work and visit.”
Director of Services with responsibility for the project Bartley Gavin acknowledged that the plan had been a long time in the making, having been initiated in 2004, but he suggested that maybe it would be much the better for the time taken with it.
Marian O’Callaghan, Acting Senior Exective Architect, also said “this day has been a long time coming”.
But she said that Cranmore was a “very different place from what it was 12 years ago”.
“We have come from a situation where there was a difficulty in letting houses in Cranmore to where there is now a demand for houses in the estate”, she said.
Referring to the various public consultations on the plan over the years, Council CEO Ciaran Hayes said that one of the strengths of the plan was the fact that it had “come about very strongly through consultation with the local community”.
Proposing the adoption of the plan, Councillor Sean MacManus recalled that the first proposal for a regeneration plan for Cranmore had been made by his son, former Sligo Borough Councillor Chris MacManus back in 2001.
The Sinn Fein councillor pointed out that at that stage Cranmore was the largest social housing estate in Connacht, with almost 500 houses and a population of around 2,500.
He said that a lot of work had been done but people sometimes felt that the pace of progress was not fast enough.
Cllr MacManus said that while nobody was going to be 100% happy with any plan he felt that overall the “vast majority of people” were supportive of the masterplan.
“But now it is time to see big gains and wins for the local community”, he added.
He also proposed, and it was agreed, that the plan should include the proviso that all public procurements relating to the regeneration of the area should include, where applicable, social clauses ensuring the mandatory employment of the long-term unemployed and apprentices from the area.
Councillors were unanimous in their support for the plan.
Cllr Rosaleen O’Grady said that what had already been achieved had been “life-changing for the community” and referring to the space created by the demolition of houses, she said: “Going into Cranmore you can now breathe”.
Cllr Marie Casserly praised everyone involved in the plan, while Cllr Tom MacSharry said that the community representatives were “the real heroes”.TextCranmore Community Co-operative has described the the adoption of the Masterplan as “very exciting”.
Co-op chairperson Ann Marie Snee said they were “delighted” that the council had adopted the plan and looked forward to working with the local community and the council to put the plan into action.
She said that the co-op acknowledged the significant work and resources that have been put into date by the local community, the council and the agencies.
“The adoption of this plan is very exciting and we look forward to the many great opportunities that will be developed in the near future as we all work towards the final implementation of Regeneration Masterplan”, she said.