Housing crisis in North Wexford

By Dan Walsh

The five-year (2022-2026) Housing For All Plan is being presented to District Councils across the county and the members of Gorey Kilmuckridge Municipal District were given details at the monthly meeting on Tuesday.

The policy has four pathways to achieving housing for all; supporting home ownership and increasing affordability, eradicating homelessness, increasing social housing delivery and supporting social inclusion, increasing new housing supply and addressing vacancy and efficient use of existing stock. It is a complicated document.

The minimum target distributed by gross demand is 1,150 houses comprising of Enniscorthy (253), Gorey Kilmuckridge (297), New Ross (168), Rosslare (96) and Wexford (336).

Geographical distribution of social housing demand and approved delivery for the Gorey Kilmuckridge District (i.e, the number of households on SSHA ‘social housing assessment) is 363, broken down as follows; Ballycanew/Ballygarrett/Camolin/Craanford (17); Ballymurn/ Glenbrien/Oylegate (12), Blackwater (9); Boolavogue/Monageer (7); Coolgreany (7); Gorey (249); Hollyfort/Kilanerin (6); Kilmuckridge (14); Monamolin (4); Oulart/The Ballagh (14); Riverchapel/Courtown (24).

MAIN STREET, GOREY, looking towards Tara Hill. (File Pic).

Some of the constraints and challenges facing the Plan includes the availability of mains water and wastewater in some areas of the county; limited existing land bank and the ability to acquire good sites in the right location; availability and capacity of contractors (It is stated that Housing for All will require a further 27,500 construction workers (nationwide?); the cost of raw materials and availability; a buoyant private market in terms of demand and limited turnkey options for Local Authority and AHB’s, and, of course, there is also Covid uncertainty.

Cllr Andrew Bolger told the meeting “It is easier to buy property in Dublin than in Gorey.” He added that it was a serious issue and called for a radical housing programme for Gorey.

Cllr Fionntán Ó Súilleabhán called for a Council led development and claimed the private market was the problem. “When it comes to affordable rent there is nothing in Gorey”, said Cllr Ó Súilleabháin, who repeated his call for the Council to build social housing.

Cllr Willie Kavanagh wondered when the 27 houses at The Ballagh will be allocated?

Cllr Diarmuid Devereux explained how nobody can built a house in Camolin and it was “choking the life out of the community – the Church of Ireland parish, the Roman Catholic community, the school, the GAA and other sports and community organisations – because Irish Water is protected by the government and political system. He added that there are seven new houses coming to Ballyoughter. Cllr Devereux mentioned that it can take seven years from buying the land and progressing through the planning and tendering progress before people can live in a house.

There was mention of holiday homes empty for 9-10 months, Cllr Joe Sullivan referred to 75 acres at St. Waleran’s and land at Rathínculain owned by the Council. Cllr Donal Kenny felt that there were several parcels of land available, and Cllr Anthony Donohoe said that Irish Water was under-funded when handed over.

There was a general consensus that Gorey Kilmuckridge needs housing and the villages should be provided with small housing schemes like in times past, but, delivery is going to be a major challenge due to rising costs and regulation and restrictions on fresh water and wastewater services.

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