Wexford County Council urged to pilot single rural-dwelling housing project

Cllr Ger Carthy.

Cllr Lisa McDonald.

Simon BourkeWexford People

With housing at a premium across Wexford and beyond, the county council has revealed that it would cost them between €230-270,000 to build a three-bedroom standalone house in a rural house. Confirming the cost, County Architect Shay Howell said this figure would deliver a property consisting of 97 square metres but did not include the purchasing of a site.

Councillor Ger Carthy had repeatedly asked Wexford County Council (WCC) to provide these figures and, having received them, said there was now an opportunity for the Rosslare Municipal District (RMD) to lead the way in the delivery of rural housing.

“There are opportunities for WCC to lead the charge in relation to the delivery of single-dwelling houses in a rural area in this country if we really want to, if the appetite is there,” he said. “This is the policy-driven issue that’s putting a block on this. Where there’s a will there’s a way and I believe if there’s a young couple who can supply us with a site, and we can build them a house for that price, I think it’s important they’re allowed to live in the area they were born and reared in.”

And although the Housing For All programme has been promoted as a means of alleviating the current housing crisis, Cllr Carthy said it didn’t take into consideration the needs of those living in the RMD.

“As far as I’m concerned, Housing For All is for the towns and the urban areas, it isn’t housing for the rural areas of Wexford. We need to be clear now about what we’re going to do, I propose the RMD pilot a number of individual houses be built in the district, I’m not fussy where they are, it’s time we led the policy. I want the support of the director of the RMD to drive on this pilot project, nothing less is any use to me or the people I represent.”

His motion was subsequently seconded by Councillor Jim Codd, however, Councillor Lisa McDonald had another suggestion. “I would rather see small housing estates built in each village, nonetheless I would support the proposition that we do build some,” she said. “We have beautiful top class schools in the countryside which aren’t being used because of our policy and they won’t be used unless we change it, I don’t think this is a cost-benefit situation, this is about saving rural Ireland.”

Although he supported Cllr McDonald’s proposal in theory, Councillor Frank Staples felt it would be eventually be hampered by the lack of available utilities in some parts of the district. “It’s an excellent idea, but unfortunately our problem is Irish Water and sewerage. The County Development Plan wants houses to be built in villages, but there’s no sewerage to facilitate this.”

Countering this, Cllr McDonald noted sewerage was now available in Wellingtonbridge and Tagoat and called upon WCC to “think outside the box” when it came to delivering houses.

Responding to the members queries and suggestions, Mr Howell said WCC was “looking at smaller estates in villages for sure” and said it was “one way of bringing the cost down (as) you’re spreading the cost over a number of houses rather than just one”. “It takes us the same amount of resources to do one house as it does ten. The small estates idea ticks a lot of boxes in terms of requirements and cost,” he said.

Meanwhile, Housing Officer Michael Drea outlined WCC’s Housing For All plans for the RMD which will see a projected 96 new builds delivered by 2026. Of those, 12 will be built in Bridgetown, 16 in Clongeen and Wellingtonbridge, 12 in Murrintown, 40 in Rosslare Harbour and Strand, and 40 in Tagoat.

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