Housing crisis

‘Astonishing’ low level of construction contributing to housing crisis in Buncrana

The “astonishing” low level of housing construction in Buncrana over the past decade has contributed to the town’s housing crisis, a town hall meeting said.

The meeting, aimed at finding possible solutions to the housing situation, was informed that there have been only 58 recorded completions of housing units over the past decade.

The meeting was called by Donegal County Council as part of the process of identifying land that could be developed for housing as part of the preparation of the town’s local plan.

The lure of rural living in single homes has contributed to the city’s low level of housing development, but the lack of housing development in the county’s second-largest city is negatively impacting its development, planners say .

The council is looking to identify land that could be developed for social housing and for private sector development.

Town planners are also concerned about the high number of derelict commercial and residential buildings in the town, the second largest in the county and the third largest town in the North West region, after Letterkenny and Sligo.

Local officials also want more land zoned for commercial and industrial development.

Cllr Rena Donaghy, who chaired the meeting, said the town, which has about 75% of mica-affected homes in Inishowen, is experiencing a housing crisis, in part due to the low level of development over the past ten years. years.

The land needs to be zoned “to allow homes to be built for the many people who need them,” she said.

“Finding a house to rent or buy in Buncrana has been next to impossible for the past eight years and people have had no choice but to put themselves on a very long waiting list.”

Mica, the pandemic and the war in Ukraine have all contributed to the housing crisis, she said.

The meeting learned from the room that much of the zoned land in the Buncrana area is agricultural land and “family land” which will not be developed in the near future despite a 3% levy to be introduced on zoned land that has not been developed.

A draft of the new local plan is expected to be released early next year.

Principal planner Róisín Kelly said the partial completion of the inner relief road was positive and the completion of the road would be part of the plan. Irish Water’s investment in infrastructure and funding of €1.7 million for regeneration has also been positive, she said.

But the fact that only 58 houses have been built in Buncrana since the start of 2012 is “pretty surprising”, she said.

The city had 158 vacant and abandoned residential units in 2020, she said, a 5% five-year decline, and 61 vacant commercial units, a 38% five-year increase.

Speaking to the Inish Times, Principal Town Planner Eunan Quinn said “viable and quality” residential options “within the city envelope” are needed.

“Then you start to have growth in the city, you start to have more viable businesses, and you start to have a walkable city – you’re not relying on private transport all the time, which is suffocating all of our cities.”

Speaking after the meeting, local councilor Nicholas Crossan said he was disappointed with the low turnout for the meeting, which was attended by less than 30 people.

He said half of the zoned land in the area “will not be built on in my lifetime”.

“We need more land for development because we have people who are ready to leave to build houses but they cannot plan because the rules and regulations say there is enough zoned land in Buncrana. .”