Log cabins should be viewed as a way for people to provide an affordable home for themselves and their families at a time of high rents and rising house prices, according to Fine Gael councillor Frank Staples.
In two amendments outlined on his behalf by Cllr Oliver Walsh, Cllr Staples said pre-fabricated timber homes are cheaper to develop than concrete houses and offer a more affordable option for many people.
He asked that such developments be assessed on a case-by-case basis as one-off rural housing to be occupied as a permanent residence with such dwellings deemed to have fulfilled the applicant’s housing need and therefore they would be regarded as having previously owned a rural home.
The Council would later consider the replacement of the structure with a house of more permanent construction on the same site, subject to planning compliance.
Units would be simple in form and design and not have the characteristics of alpine dwellings. Where a timber finish is proposed, the tree planting must be at a density that would provide a woodland setting.
In general, the council would not consider a log cabin in the back garden of an existing dwelling in a town or village setting but it must be located on an independent site.
In response, senior executive planner Diarmuid Houston stressed that these were temporary housing solutions with a limited lifespan of about 60 years. The Council would be happy enough to see the policy adopted but they would have to keep a close eye on it and “if it really started to get out of hand, I would come back to you and say, this is not working”.
“Just be aware that this is a very short-term solution to a problem. Maybe it’s a temporary solution that would work for a number of years.”
He said a family could have a house for €60,000 to €70,000, with somewhere to live of a decent standard, but there was a time limit involved as timber homes don’t last as long as a traditional house and that is what planners would be advising people when they made enquiries.
Cllr Michael Whelan said it could be a way for people to get on the property ladder but is the Council going to turn around down the line and say, you already owned a house.
Mr Houston said if a subsequent planning application for a permanent residence was on the same site it wouldn’t be an issue.