Cllr Áine Smith (FF).

Calls for council to introduce Ready to Build Scheme

Cavan County Council has been asked to establish its own Ready to Build Scheme, selling serviced town centre sites to home builders at reduced prices of up to €30,000 below the market value.

“At a time when housing is one of the biggest issues in the country, I wanted to ask the county council about the Ready to Build Scheme,” said Fianna Fáil's Áine Smith, explaining how local authorities can sell sites they already own or buy new sites to sell on. “They make these sites available for people to build homes on, by providing access and services to the sites, such as electricity, water and wastewater.”

Speaking at the April monthly meeting of Cavan County Council, Cllr Smith said: “People my age or younger are looking to build and having trouble with planning permission. Surely this would be the perfect solution! We have small towns and villages with decreasing populations. As a result, football clubs unable to field a team, schools are crying out for students so they can keep teachers. This can and will revitalise small towns.”

The Bawnboy representative went to state that towns and villages are already equipped with local services to sustain increased population, not to mention the positive knock-on effect for local clubs and organisations.

“All our villages and smaller towns would benefit from more people living in them. They have all the amenities as I mentioned earlier and, apart from having physical infrastructure, they also have the social infrastructure of schools, health services and also sporting and community facilities. In many instances those community and sporting organisations would also benefit from having a greater population.”

“Vibrant” towns and villages, she concluded, was something all statutory organisations “should be aiming to build and facilitate”.

“This scheme aims to support the future growth of towns and villages by making available serviced sites to give people the opportunity to build their own home. In doing so, it provides the opportunity to strengthen Ireland’s rural urban fabric and support the communities who live there.”

Cllr Smith's motion was backed by fellow party member John Paul Feeley, who said it had been raised previously at a Strategic Policy Committee meeting with the prospect of identifying “sites suitable for use”.

However, he noted with frustration that house builders often do not wish to move into an already built-up area. Such a prospect “wasn't attractive” to some people who would rather a one-off build in a stand-alone location.

“There is a need for houses that meet people's needs,” said Cllr Feeley, whose comments were supported by Fine Gael's Winston Bennett, and T.P. O'Reilly, the latter of whom stated that the motion fits with the ambitions set out in the County Development Plan.

There was support too from Cllrs Patricia Walsh (FF), Peter McVitty (FG), and Independents Brendan Fay and Shane P O'Reilly.

Responding, council executive member Linda McGavigan said that the use of the council-owned landbanks is an option in meeting the requirements set out under the Housing for All plan.