Tuesday 21 May 2019

Fears of building boom chaos ahead

Councillor says perfect storm is looming as services lacking

Cllr John Snell
Cllr John Snell

David Looby

A perfect storm is being created in east Wicklow with thousands of houses due to be built within the next few years, without adequate services for residents.

An application for 79 residential dwelling units in Ballynerrin was lodged with Wicklow County Council last week; the latest in a slew of applications to the local authority over the past 18 months.

The development fronted by Tom and Pat Redmond will consist of the following if approved by council planners: three five-bedroom detached two storey dwelling units, nine four-bedroom detached two storey dwelling units, 24 four-bedroom semi-detached two storey dwellings units, 20 three-bedroom semi-detached two storey dwelling units, six two-bedroom apartments, six three-bedroom duplex two storey units, ancillary hard and soft landscaping, ancillary car parking and public lighting. A decision is due on the application on June 6.

Independent Cllr John Snell said a perfect storm is being created with thousands of houses due to be built in an area which doesn't have the facilities and services for the residents.

Cllr Snell said: 'There is a lot of activity. East Wicklow has all of the necessary infrastructure including water and sewerage for the area. There are an incredible amount of developments planned in Ashford, Wicklow town, Newtownmountkennedy and in Rathnew. In each development there has to be 10 per cent local authority housing.'

Cllr Snell, who is chairperson of Wicklow Housing Special Policy Committee, said the committee ensured this practise replaced the old practise of developers providing land or money to the council.

He said 1,400 housing units are planned for Newtownmountkennedy alone, with 700 planned for Tinakilly, Rathnew, 300 for Kirvin Hill, Rathnew, 50 units in the pipeline for Greenhill Road in Wicklow, an additional 88 houses planned for Rathnew through an approved housing body, 60 more units at Dromhall Roundabout, including 40 affordable houses.

He said this development is particularly promising as it will help people caught in the property trap; namely those who earn above the €38,500 Housing Approved Payment (HAP threshold) who cannot be get bank approval for a mortgage.

'These are people who are caught between two stools. They are not entitled to get HAP and yet can't earn enough to get their own mortgage, In reality they are renting a three-bed for €1,700 a month, paying someone else's mortgage. It's bizarre.'

He said the Government are finally making sites available for affordable housing.

'Some have been earmarked in east Wicklow,' he said, adding that it is imperative that councils work closely with developers to ensure the right size houses are built.

'There are many people on the social housing list who require bungalows as they have mobility issues and many others need one or two bed apartments or houses.'

The spiralling costs of renting have led many people to move to Co Wexford, he added.

'€1,700 a month just isn't affordable. People are moving from Dublin to east Wicklow and others are moving to Co Wexford where rents are cheaper but then they end up commuting longer distances so family life is affected. We are only 32 miles from Dublin city centre from here. The problem is the number of applications is up here so the Department of Education need to look at building a new primary school. as the population grows so does the pressure on services, especially for children with disabilities.'

He said the opening of one Gaelscoil will not solve the problem.

'It will only accommodate the pupils who are already attending there. I would estimate there could be 1,400 houses built in the Rathnew area over the next couple of years, including Wicklow town. With traffic increasing on the N11, especially at morning commute times, a perfect storm is being created. What we need is jobs in east Wicklow so people wouldn't have to commute or move. They could be employed within their own district and pressure would be relieved on the road network. While our roads are quite good once you hit the Glen of the Downs it becomes a bottleneck again.'

Wicklow People