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Log cabins proposed to address housing shortage

The provision of log cabin/modular homes in gardens, subject to certain conditions, has been put forward by a member of Westmeath County Council as a means of addressing the severe shortage of housing in the region.

At the November meeting of Athlone Moate Municipal District, Cllr Frankie Keena raised a motion calling on Westmeath County Council to vary the County Development Plan to allow for the provision of long cabin/modular homes in gardens, subject to certain conditions.

Cllr Keena said that “every action needs to be undertaken” to help address the current housing crisis. “My heart goes out to the numerous people who contact me daily looking for houses, either through HAP, RAS or direct purchase,” he said.

While acknowledging that there are four active large house building projects underway in Athlone at present, and a number of others near the final stages of approval, he pointed out that the council still need to be looking at “alternative ways” of helping people get a roof over their heads.

The Fianna Fail Cllr said he is receiving ongoing calls from parents who want to know 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 being faced with their sons or daughters trying to live out of a box room in the family home with their partners/spouses and children.”

He added that this type of overcrowding situation is “not sustainable” and said he does feel the council should be seriously looking at allowing such structures in people’s gardens, subject to certain conditions.

While the Westmeath County Development Plan does not allow for such developments, Cllr Keena pointed out that it does allow for a ‘Granny Flat’ to be provided.

“As elected members we need to step up to the plate and think outside the box to help people get housing, as we have a severe shortage of both social and private housing and this needs to be sorted,” he continued.

In response to the motion, Director of Services, Barry Kehoe, agreed that every support needs to be provided to try and help people get housing. He added that the motion warrants further consideration and that he will engage with the planning officials to see what is possible. He also agreed to discuss the issue 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 trying to get progress made on this very important matter.