The saying there is only room for one woman in the kitchen couldn’t be more true for a group of council residents in Carrick-on-Suir’s Treacy Park whose kitchens are so small that it’s not possible to walk by an open oven door.
Residents of the estimated nine homes in the 76 year-old estate that have these narrow, tiny kitchens have called on the Town Council to prioritise their homes for new extensions.
All of the houses, bar one, have their bathrooms located next to the kitchen. One must walk through the kitchen to use the toilet or shower, which residents complain is not hygienically acceptable in this day and age.
The kitchens and bathrooms in the group of houses are situated in extensions constructed in the 1980s and local Fianna Fail councillor Kieran Bourke says it’s time they were replaced with better designed extensions.
Most of the houses in the estate have spacious kitchens and he believes the badly designed extensions in this group of homes were built prior to the Treacy Park Regeneration Scheme, which substantially upgraded houses in the estate.
He has been campaigning since September to secure a commitment from the Council to take the first step in the process of securing funding for the extensions, namely to carry out an engineering survey of the group of houses and prepare a report for submission to the Department of Environment for funding.
At the Council’s monthly meeting on Monday night, Cllr Bourke announced that Council management agreed at the Housing Committee meeting held just beforehand to carry out this survey and report next year.
Cllr Bourke told The Nationalist he wanted the Council to prioritise the provision of these extensions as the kitchens and their locations next to bathroom facilities did not meet health and safety requirements in this day and age. He realised that finance was a problem for the Council but it should at least get the ball rolling and apply for funding for the project.
He said he was horrified that one elderly resident, who requires a walking frame to get about, can’t walk through his kitchen because it’s so narrow to get to the bathroom. He had to use a bucket in the front room if he needed to go to the toilet.
“The Council, in fairness, did offer him alternative accommodation but he has lived there all his life and didn’t want to move,” said Cllr Bourke.
One kitchen The Nationalist visited was just 6 x 8ft in size and could barely accommodate a small cooker and a sink on the other wall with a work top just about a foot in width, and a small rack on the wall for plates next to the bathroom door.
When you open the oven door it hits off the sink cabinet. The bathroom next door is too small to accommodate a wash hand basin, so the family have to use the kitchen sink to wash their teeth and hands.
The family’s dresser and dining table and chairs are located in a converted front room but you must first walk through the main living room to get cutlery , to use in the kitchen.
“This kitchen would put you off cooking. If you want a spoon you have to walk through the sitting room to get it. If I had room for one press in my kitchen I would be happy,” said the woman of the house, who didn’t wish to be identified.
It’s most embarrassing when you have visitors and one of them asks to use the bathroom. You have to walk through the kitchen,” she added.
In another house in the estate, the residents show me their larger but very narrow kitchen, which like the elderly gentlemen’s house you have to walk through to access the bathroom. The cooker is located just next to the bathroom door. There are five adults living in the house but no room for a table and chairs. Everyone eats in the sitting room with the plates on their laps.
All the other residents The Nationalist spoke to with similar kitchens all ate their meals in their sitting rooms in a similar fashion.
Another resident The Nationalist spoke said her kitchen became unbearably hot when the oven was on because the room was so small. “I have to keep the children out of the kitchen when the oven is on. It’s just too small,” she said.
A resident of a fourth house with a small kitchen complained that she had been onto the Town Council for 13 years to get a new extension but to no avail.
Cllr Bourke said residents accepted that funding was tight and would be quite happy for just two or three houses to be renovated each year over a a number of years with the most urgent cases prioritised.
In response, Town Clerk Michael O’Brien said the Council had a rolling maintenance programme for its housing stock and spent a significant amount of money annually upgrading council homes around the town. At the moment it was investing in renovating houses in Marian Avenue and Ballylynch.
When asked had the Council any plans to carry out these extensions, Mr O’Brien didn’t give any commitment and pointed out that resources were tight at the moment and the Council had to prioritise the work it carried out on Council homes.
He said the extensions in these houses were built in accordance with the building regulations in place at the time they were constructed.
And he pointed out that Treacy Park was considered as a very attractive location to live in Carrick-on-Suir.