After months of debate and discussion, the councillors and officials of the Rosslare Municipal District (RMD) have come to an agreement regarding the need for housing across the area.
Although they weren’t furnished with the details they requested - a breakdown of where applicants would like to live in an ideal scenario - the councillors did receive a breakdown of the areas of choice submitted to Wexford County Council (WCC) by those on the housing list.
Previous arguments had centred on the belief RMD housing applicants were selecting areas outside the district because of a lack of available properties in their area. On foot of this, councillors had asked that applicants be contacted and asked where they would like to live if availability wasn’t a problem.
Instead, they received a list of the places chosen on the official applications sent to WCC. There are currently 342 people on the housing list in the RMD, each of those have been asked to list three areas in the county where they would like to live.
Of those 342, a total of 100 people have listed Wexford town as their first choice, with Rosslare Strand (47), Rosslare Harbour (30), and Bridgetown (22), the next most popular. In terms of their second choice, Rosslare Strand (34) was most popular with Rosslare Harbour (31), Wexford town (30), Kilrane and Kimore (both 18) the next highest. Tagoat (27) was the most popular third option with Wexford town (26), Rosslare Strand (24), Rosslare Harbour (19), Piercetown, Kilrane, Duncormick, Wellingtonbridge, and Bridgetown (all 11) next on the list.
The report had been requested after councillors explained how they were being forced to advise people in their district to choose Wexford town as their preferred place to live because of the lack of housing in the RMD. However, after analysing the figures, Director of Services Annette O’Neill said this wasn’t necessarily the case
“The choices on the application, it isn’t a question of priority, there’s three locations it doesn’t matter what order they're in,” said Ms O’Neill. “Of the 342 applicants, 55 only put in one choice, 88 only put in two, only 199 of the applicants (58 per cent) filled in all three. I got a list of the applicants’ addresses and compared them with the choices they had on their applications and on the first area listed 65 per cent of the applicants have included an area within the RMD, for their second area 203 have put in an area from the RMD, and 176 chose an RMD location for their third choice, 58 per cent of all locations chosen are in the RMD, over half the people have selected that.”
“I understand where Annette is coming from in relation to preferences outside the district, but my concern is within the district, people are not going to pick Tacumshane because there’s no houses there,” said Councillor Ger Carthy in response. “I asked the housing department to ask the applicants where they would like to live, as market research. If we can’t do it ourselves we can farm it out because there’s consultants everywhere. Then we can build a strategic plan for the delivery of houses across the RMD, build a few clusters around the place as Councillor Lisa McDonald has been advocating for.
"I want to know where the people want to live. Could we get in a market researcher and give them the contact details of those people, ask them where they are from and where they’d like to live; where they would like their family to be brought up, what GAA club would they like their kids to play for? Let’s do the best we can in the areas where there’s a need.”
But for Cllr McDonald, the figures merely proved what she had been saying all along.
“We’ve been told there’s no need in Carrig-on-Bannow, that’s what has come back to a builder in Carrig, yet on this list there are 13 people who have chosen it as their number one choice. So, it’s clear, there is a need for a nice little small housing estate there, bigger than a cluster,” she said. “There’s supporting evidence for Bridgetown, Kilmore, Kilmore Quay, Murrintown, where I can also confirm the builder in question there was told there was no need. There’s evidence there that a further housing estate should be built in Tagoat. There isn’t enough in the pipeline and that’s the problem we’re up against.”
Relating back to suggestions that people in the RMD were primarily selecting areas outside the district as their number one choice, Ms O’Neill said that conversation “bothered me greatly because if there was a mass practise of putting an area outside the RMD as their choice, then the demand wouldn’t show. Cllr McDonald and myself have come to the conclusion that demand is evident in the district, the objective was to prove there is demand, real demand, I don’t know if we need the market research, the proof is there in black and white in front of us.”
After Councillor Jim Codd reiterated the need for market research and said he was continuing to advise people to choose areas outside the RMD when submitting their housing applications, Ms Caroline Creane from WCC’s Housing Department put at least one part of this discussion to bed once and for all.
“We discussed it in the Housing Department about contacting everyone (for their preferred area), we don’t see a need to do it, we have enough information gathered to determine where people want to live,” she said.
This decision did not sit well with Cllr Carthy.
“If this is going to be refused then get Tom Enright (WCC Chief Executive) down out of that office. I asked for it to be done, and if it’s not done I’ll put an advertisement in the paper myself asking those applicants what they want.”
Meanwhile, Cathaoirleach Jim Moore was keen to move onwards and put the information provided to good use.
“If we’ve got expressions of interest across the district for providing houses, how can we match that with the figures we have here?” he asked. “In other words, how many houses do we need and where do we need them? We have all the figures, we know there’s a demand. There has to be land out there we can access, through whatever means, to provide houses.”