FOR the Lowry-Jamieson family, there were many reasons for choosing to live in a rural area with their four children. But they admit the disadvantage of distance from services is a serious issue.
Creche manager Gillian Lowry is 33. Husband Alistair Jamieson is 34 and their children are Ellie (10), Chloe (7), Dylan (5) and Kara, who is just six weeks old.
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They decided to self-build their own home in 2008 on the Lowry family land in Drumatoland in east Donegal. The nearest towns are Raphoe (7km away) and Letterkenny (16km).
"Having lived in Dublin and Letterkenny, the town offered a convenience, but when you have a family your priorities change. You become concerned by lack of space, small gardens, danger of traffic and the noise from neighbouring homes," says Gillian.
For the same money as a small three-bedroom home in Letterkenny, they built a five-bedroom house on a site. "I grew up in towns as my dad was a bank manager," says Alistair.
"I desperately craved the freedom the countryside had to offer."
"Maybe in 20 or 30 years when the children leave home and house is too big, we may opt to downsize and move to a town but right now we're very happy where we are," adds Gillian.
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The Residential Land Availability Survey map was created by drawing together zoning maps held by each local authority in the State.
Developed by the Department of the Environment, it sets out individual plots of land in towns, villages, cities and rural areas, and indicates the number of homes permitted on each site.
It took almost two years to develop, and provides planners and developers with an overview of the available land for housing.
It does not include land zoned for mixed-use development, which would generally include some housing provision. Nor does it include derelict sites.
The data is based on the situation as of March 31 last. Stage 1 land is considered not viable for development in the short-term because necessary services such as water are not in place. Stage 2 land has no major constraints. Not all the land has planning permission.