St. Michael’s Road in Longford town was once a place where older residents were living in deplorable conditions in tiny, damp 120-year-old houses. Many were forced to sleep in their living room-cum-kitchens, because they were unable to climb dangerous stairs. Children were unable to play on the estate due to the heavy traffic (St. Michael’s Road was used as a rat-run to avoid the town centre). Local Gardaí were contending with illegal dumping in the alleyways behind the street and the town council was receiving regular reports of anti-social behaviour and puppy-breeding farms in the derelict properties. It was a mess.
In 2007, Longford Town Council and Cluid put their heads together and formed a partnership to tackle the physical decay and social debilitation of St. Michael’s Road. The partnership has been described as “an exemplar to many other housing associations and local authorities across the country” (Executive Director of the Irish Council for Social Housing).
Together, they developed a plan for the social, physical and financial sustainability of the re-development. They became the leaders of a collaborative approach to ensure that everyone’s ideas were heard and everyone’s needs were met. This re-ignited residents’ interest and led to them being involved in a hands-on way with the plans for St. Michael’s.
St. Michael’s Road was transformed into a comfortable, secure, pleasant environment. Today, 37 households live on St. Michael’s Road – a beautifully designed, modern, yet traditional estate and a community that has been brought back to life.
Last year, St. Michael’s Road received the highest accolade at the national Community Housing Awards 2013. Longford Town Council and Cluid were also recognised for their commitment to leading all stakeholders to the table, including community groups, owner occupiers on the street, neighbouring estates, architects, etc.
RTE’s Morning Ireland featured St. Michael’s Road on their programme in 2013.
|BEFORE REGENERATION||AFTER REGENERATION|
|REPUTATION||Very poor.||Award winning.|
|UNITS||58, very small – 70% vacant/boarded up.||Amalgamation and new build created 37 new homes.|
|ALLEYWAYS||An ideal dumping ground.||Alleyways cleared and minimised.|
|ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR||A regular occurrence, including street drinking and violence.||Bungalows facing onto the open space area adds significantly to the passive surveillance.|
|HEATING||No central heating.||Gas fired condenser boilers and solid fuel stoves. B1 and an A3 BER energy rating.|
|TRAFFIC||A by-pass.||Pinch points and raised tables slows traffic.|
This innovative partnership with Clúid has transformed a neighbourhood once described as irredeemable into a sustainable community for generations to come. Clúid’s understanding of marginalised communities and the social element of regeneration is what has made St. Michael’s socially, environmentally, physically and financially sustainable.CLLR. PAUL CONNELL - MAYOR OF LONGFORD