Former accommodation centre to house Limerick students

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The Westbourne Accommodation Centre

THE owners of a former Direct Provision Centre in Limerick are to redevelop derelict apartments for student use and transfer ownership subject to financial agreement to Mary Immaculate College.

Labour Party councillor Joe Leddin this week welcomed the news that the former Westbourne Accommodation Centre will become a home from home for third-level students.

Until their closure in 2017, up to 60 asylum seekers were accommodated at Courtbrack Avenue, just off the Dock Road, across three blocks of apartments on a lease arrangement with the Reception and Integration Agency.

“Located less than 500 yards from the campus of Mary Immaculate College, the boarded up apartments have been an eyesore in a residential area and will provide, once refurbished, much needed accommodation to the hundreds of students currently driving long distances or checking into hotels on a weekly basis,” Cllr Leddin told the Limerick Post.

“That an owner can leave apartments or indeed houses unoccupied and boarded up for several years reflects the failure and weakness of current Derelict Sites legislation. It is simply unacceptable that in the middle of a housing crisis compounded by students unable to source suitable houses or apartments to live that these three blocks remained unoccupied and in effect derelict.

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“I have spoken on several occasions with the Derelict Sites Unit in Limerick City and County Council and wish to acknowledge the work done to contact the owner and agree the redevelopment and refurbishment of these buildings.

“If Government are serious about addressing our housing crisis and the chronic shortage of homes and apartments for those seeking suitable places to rent and live, then we cannot allow absentee owners or companies to leave properties boarded up and falling into poor states of disrepair for considerable periods of time,” he concluded.