Plans for 21 apartments at former Carrick-on-Suir convent school

Aileen Hahesy

Reporter:

Aileen Hahesy

Bridgewater House in Carrick-on-Suir, which re-opened recently as a residential centre for asylum seekers

The owner of Bridgewater House in Carrick-on-Suir town centre that re-opened as a residential centre for asylum seekers in late November, is planning to refurbish the property providing 21 apartments.  

Co. Cork businessman Thomas Duggan submitted the application in relation to the former Mercy convent and school complex located off Main Street on December 22. The application was deemed incomplete by the Co. Council this week, which means it will have to be re-submitted with further details required by the local authority. 

The incomplete application sought permission to provide 17 residential apartment units in an existing three-storey building and the refurbishment of St Joseph's Convent buildings to provide four apartments. 

It also requested a change of use of part of the property from retail units to a reception, day room and caretaker's apartment and demolition of an external escape stairs and single storey building. 

The application also sought permission to erect a new pedestrian gate at Main Street and relocate the existing vehicular gates. It proposes re-opening an  existing pedestrian door to North Quay and change from emergency vehicle access to permanent vehicular access. 

And it requested permission from the Council to carry out external alterations to existing elevations and shop fronts at Main Street, including removal of panel and double doors and insertion of a new window and double doors. 

Mr Duggan declined to comment on his plans for the property when contacted by The Nationalist and referred any queries in relation to the re-opening of the property as a centre for asylum seekers to the Department of Justice & Equality. 

It's understood, however, that the major refurbishment of the complex was being planned before the Department of Justice & Equality sought the use of Bridgewater House again as a centre for asylum seekers. 

A statement from the Department of Justice & Equality reiterated what was reported in The Nationalist last week that Bridgewater House has re-opened as a residential centre for asylum seekers because of an increase in demand for accommodation from people seeking international protection. 

The Department said this resulted in the re-opening of centres that had previously been under contract to the Department. 

"Bridgewater had been used previously as an accommodation centre and was readily available to be used again. The contract is for a maximum 115 people and current occupancy is 111 people." 

The Department of Justice said it was satisfied with the quality of the current accommodation at Bridgewater House and confirmed its contract with the property's owner was for a fixed period of one year.  

"The Department is currently preparing a request for tender for the longer term provision for the accommodation of protection applicants. 

"It is a matter for the contractors in Bridgewater to decide whether they will apply for that competition when it is published later this year."