Re­stric­tive house zones ‘killing’ vil­lages

Wexford People - - NEWS -

HOUSE buy­ing rules im­posed by Wex­ford County Coun­cil which limit prospec­tive home own­ers to liv­ing out­side a 7km ra­dius of ur­ban cen­tres in the county need to be changed as they are killing vil­lages across the county.

This is the view of Cllr John Flem­ing, along with sev­eral coun­cil­lors, who raised the is­sue. The meet­ing heard that proof must be fur­nished that a hous­ing ap­pli­cant ei­ther lives in an area or has done in the past if they are to have a chance of get­ting ap­proved for plan­ning. A coun­cil spokesper­son said guid­ance is given to peo­ple mov­ing to the county for a job, for in­stance.

Di­rec­tor of Servies Tony Larkin said: ‘We will ac­cept rea­son­able ev­i­dence of jobs in parts of the county, but that doesn’t mean some­thing writ­ten on the back of an en­ve­lope. An aw­ful lot of peo­ple chance their arm over plans all the time. It’s our job to weed out the peo­ple with a gen­uine need from de­vel­op­ers look­ing to build. The num­ber of sites are lim­ited so we want them to be avail­able for peo­ple with a lo­cal need. These can be peo­ple from out­side the area who pre­vi­ously lived here.’

Mr Larkin said sites are scarce, es­pe­cially in north Wex­ford. ‘We know the pres­sures that come on. We are try­ing not to be un­rea­son­able while con­tin­u­ing to en­force lo­cal need.’

He said coun­cil­lors can alert him to par­tic­u­lar cases but in three out of four cases plan­ners re­fusals are found to be jus­ti­fied.

‘I have seen peo­ple down­siz­ing from 1800sq ft houses to 3,000 sq ft houses and I have seen shop as­sis­tants ap­ply to build 3,000 sq ft houses on Tara Hill in Gorey.’

Mr Larkin said the county de­vel­op­ment plan is com­ing up this sum­mer. ‘If you are not happy with it it would be en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate to change it then.’

Cllr Jim Moore said the coun­cil’s pol­icy needs to be com­mu­ni­cated bet­ter to peo­ple, point­ing out that he knows a fish­er­man who is hav­ing dif­fi­culty prov­ing that he is liv­ing in an area as he works at sea most of the time.

Cllr Michael Whe­lan said a ma­jor de­vel­op­ment was re­cently granted plan­ning per­mis­sion to a de­vel­oper who left a hous­ing estate in north Wex­ford in an ‘ap­palling state’.

‘He has been given plan­ning per­mis­sion to cre­ate an­other one. Now these de­vel­op­ers can come back us­ing the same name and build dodgy es­tates for the fu­ture. There is no way Ir­ish Wa­ter would take them over.’

Cllr Felm­ing said new fam­i­lies can­not move into vil­lages. ‘I know a man in Dun­cormick who can’t build a house in Mur­rin­town. It’s to­tally too re­stric­tive. Our vil­lages are dy­ing and we are chok­ing them. Peo­ple are be­ing herded into cities like what hap­pened in Cork and Dublin. It’s hav­ing a hugely neg­a­tive ef­fect on ru­ral com­muities and vil­lages.’

Cllr Mary Far­rell said she wel­comes that the new county de­vel­op­ment plan will be re­viewed. ‘I think the in­tepre­ta­tion of it is very mis­lead­ing.’

She said peo­ple are be­ing en­cour­aged to ex­tend their houses, cit­ing the ex­am­ple of one per­son who was ad­vised not to ap­ply for plan­ning be­cause they al­ready had a house.

‘I think we are tak­ing it too far,’ she said.

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