Lack of interest in ‘backyard log cabins’ disappoints Quinn

by Sylvia Pownall

A councillor who suggested building log cabins in back gardens to tackle the housing crisis has expressed disappointment at the lack of support for his idea.

Sinn Fein’s Malachy Quinn said the move would have given some “breathing space” to young families so they could remain in their local community and save for a mortgage deposit.

But his motion was voted down by members of the Balbriggan/Swords ward at an area council meeting where councillors expressed concerns over planning and the quality of dwelling proposed.

Cllr Quinn asked that planning laws which currently require that any structure above 25sqm have permission be reviewed so that families could provide accommodation for relatives facing high rents or homelessness.

He said: “You can apply for planning permission for an extension or granny flat, but they must have direct access to the rest of the house. My motion wanted to include free-standing structures that don’t have to be attached to the main dwelling.

“It would have only been for family members also, which will preclude any potential for exploitation on a commercial basis. I just wanted to give more certainty to families who want to, at some stage, purchase their own home.

“I was hopeful that my follow councillors would welcome an opportunity for young families to remain within the community where their children attend school at the same time not be at the mercy of the high rents within Fingal.”

Just last week Fingal County Council’s director of housing Margaret Geraghty admitted the local authority faced an “ongoing challenge” in dealing with the housing crisis. Latest figures show almost 500 families in Fingal are either homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Ms Geraghty said there had been a “relentless focus” last year to try to support people, adding: “The reality is that until there is sufficient housing supply in the system, there is going to be an ongoing challenge in relation to people vulnerable to becoming homeless.”

Fingal County Council is now working to provide a secure tenancy situation for those in the private rented sector in a bid to prevent people losing their homes in the first place.

Meanwhile Cllr Quinn said he has not given up on the log cabin idea.

He said: “With many young families coming to my Balbriggan office struggling to afford rents and unable to save for a mortgage it is important that all solutions be looked at.

“I will continue to explore all options.”

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