Buncrana ‘site’ situation serious

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An Inishowen councillor has hit out at the new County Donegal Development Plan because, she claims, it is prohibiting people who bought sites some years ago from building on them now. It was suggested too that because of changes to the plan the situation for many people was now ‘serious’

Fianna Fail Councillor Rena Donaghey said she has several representations about the clause prohibiting ‘persons owning the land’ from building on sites they purchased some years ago in the Buncrana and Letterkenny areas.

She claims amendments to the development plan are prohibiting them from constructing a house.

“This was never the intention of elected members and I’m now calling for the development plan to be amended to include the provision of persons owning land,” he said.

Councillor Paul Canning, said the issue was now becoming serious as more people were seeking permission to build a house.

“People who live away from where the site is are now finding they cannot build,” he said.

Cllr Dessie Larkin (FF), said it was unbelievable people who owned land for 100 years, yet lived some distance away cannot build a house.

“The previous plan set a timeframe of seven years whereby people could own land and build a house on a site, but this clause has been removed,” he said.

Fine Gael Cllr Bernard McGuinness, said the amendment should be made immediately. “I know somebody who is abroad who cannot come home now and build a house,” he said.

Director of services for planning, Michael Heaney, said Sustainable Rural Housing Guidelines provide the framework to meet genuine rural generated housing needs, rather than demand related issues, such as urban generated pressure.

He said a review of the plan will be brought before members next year where an opportunity for any possible amendments would arise.

“The development plan confirms that individuals who can provide evidence that they, or their parents, have resided in areas defined as ‘Areas Under Strong Urban Influence’ for a period of at least seven years will be considered to have a ‘rural generated housing need.

Meanwhile, the Development plan 2013-2018 reveals Donegal had the second highest vacancy housing rate in the state in 2011 at 28.5% equating to 24,066 houses. This figure is high as it is made up of the sum of vacant houses, vacant flats plus holiday homes/total housing stock. The population of the county was estimated at 160,927 having grown by 9.3%.