Clare’s rugged landscape and scenic beauty has been a unique selling point for generations but is now viewed as a factor in limiting affordable housing prospects in the county.
Under the Government’s recently published ‘Housing for All’ plan, a new framework for housing delivery up until 2030 is set out and promises to deliver 33,000 homes, including 10,000 social homes every year for the next nine years.
Coupled with this, Clare County Council as part of the new County Development Plan must prepare a Housing Strategy which will set out how the anticipated population growth can be accommodated in the county over the lifetime of the plan.
In a proposal before the local authority, Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) requested the Council to undertake relevant research “to provide empirical evidence as to the current demand here in Clare for affordable housing for permanent residents who do not qualify for social housing assistance”. He flagged, “All the anecdotal evidence suggests there is a crisis in the availability of affordable housing stock, for both private ownership or long term rental, for permanent residents”.
Housing supply “remains the key issue” in Clare with minimal developments of scale ongoing, Director of Service, Anne Haugh replied. “The lack of new housing supply has impacted on the second-hand market which has seen significant increase in property prices in the county”. She confirmed that a detailed study as requested by Cllr Murphy will be completed which will build on the data compiled for the Housing Strategy. This research must have “a very localised context,” Haugh acknowledged.
“Unless recognisance is taken of unique challenges for affordable housing in tourist counties like Clare, then I think the Housing for All plan will not deliver for all counties,” Cllr Murphy admitted.
Locals are finding it increasingly difficult to secure property in Lahinch, Cllr Shane Talty (FF) highlighted. “North of €500,000 is the price for any house going up for sale in Lahinch so affordability goes out the window for locals wanting to maintain their life there”.
Strategic thinking focused on people can see Clare become “leaders in Ireland possibly Europe,” Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) believed. “If people are not at the heart of it what else matters. Having viable communities in our areas needs to be at the top of our list. The timeline has to align with the County Development Plan, without it we’re making decisions in the dark”.
Affordable housing is a necessity in all communities, Cllr Pat Hayes (FF) stressed. “For a young couple to have that sort of money to build a house and get land is an awful lot, affordable housing is needed in rural communities to get young couples to set up. Affordable housing is for all not just the main towns of Ennis and Shannon”. Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) agreed, “In the county we do have a problem with affordable housing, we have a terrible situation where people are paying huge rents”.
Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien (FF) needs to take a closer look at Council loans, Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) felt. Cllr Gabriel Keating (FG) suggested following the model of the Cloughjordan eco-village.