Speaking during this week’s Athlone-Moate Municipal District meeting, Cllr Frankie Keena raised a motion requesting Westmeath County Council to vary the County Development Plan and allow for the provision of log cabin/modular homes in gardens subject to certain conditions.
In speaking on the motion he stated that every action needs to be undertaken to help address the present housing crisis.
“My heart goes out to the numerous people who contact me on a regular basis looking for houses either through the local authority, HAPS, RAS or direct purchase. While locally we have four active large house building projects in development with some nearing final stages of approval, we must look at alternative ways of helping people get a roof over their head,” Cllr Keena stated.
Cllr. Keena noted that he is receiving ongoing calls from parents looking to see if their sons or daughters can erect a log cabin/modular home type of structure in their gardens.
“To me this makes perfect sense as these parents are faced with their sons or daughters trying to live out of a box room in the family home with their partners/spouses and children. That overcrowding situation is not sustainable and I do feel we should be seriously looking at allowing such structures in people’s gardens subject to certain conditions.
“At the moment, the Westmeath County Development Plan does not allow for such realisations but it does allow for a granny flat to be provided. As elected members, we need to ‘think outside of the box’ to help people to avail of essential housing. We have a severe shortage of social and private housing and this needs to be rectified immediately,” Cllr Keena asserted.
In response to his motion, director of services, Mr Barry Kehoe, agreed that every support needs to be provided to try and help people avail of housing. He added that the motion warrants further consideration and stated that he will engage with the planning officials to see what is possible.
Anxious about the timeline on such considerations, Mr Kehoe stated that he will talk privately with Cllr Keena to tease out the proposal further in conjunction with the planners.
Cllr Keena thanked the Director of Services for the initial positive response and said that he is looking forward to making progress on this very important matter.