Louth County Council say shifting policies from central government mean a move towards building more one and two bedroom properties – something one Ardee Municipal District councillor feels is necessary in mid Louth.
The issue of providing more housing options for single people was raised during the March meeting of the Ardee Municipal District held in the town on Thursday afternoon.
Indepdendent councillor Jim Tenanty told the meeting that there seemed to be too many three and four bed housing options and not enough for people without families.
“In mid-Louth and most areas, there is a problem in finding properties for single people – one or two beds,” he said. “Is there anything in the pipeline in relation to securing a building or properties for the kind of people who can’t find properties anywhere? Even through HAP or through the private rental sector. That seems to be the biggest problem in this area.
“People, maybe living with an ailment of some kind of illness, need their own kind of accommodation and need to be housed. It seems we have three and four beds, but no one and twos.
“Is there something that can be done to alleviate that?” he asked.
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Cathaoirleach Dolores Minogue argued that that if the local authority are building any houses, it should at least be two bedroom properties, arguing that for social housing, one beds “aren’t very social.” She added; “HAP is quite low for single persons. Finding the rest of the rent can be a big struggle.”
Sinn Féin’s Pearse McGeough spoke about the “severe crisis out there” and said, “There are people with serious, serious issues in this area. They need to be addressed. It’s very sad.”
In response, Aoife Lawlor, Louth County Council’s Senior Executive Officer for Housing spoke of a “change” and a “national conversation” about the issue.
The demographic need is for one and two beds, with a smaller amount of three beds and very few four beds as family sizes change,” she said. Lawlor added that planners and private developers are encouraging more one and two beds accomodation options.
“For an older person – a one or two bed, with maybe a box room for a carer or grandchild is good, but in other situations a two-bed would be a bad idea. You might have a single person coming out of homelessness. It could be a source of anti-social behaviour or a source of people taking advantage.”
The council official said that large numbers of bungalows will not be delivered under current policies. “You will see apartment blocks with lifts. Bungalows don’t provide the density required,” she told the meeting.
Fianna Fáil councillor John Sheridan brought up the issue of transfers and asked how that could be used to the council’s advantages.
“It’s not called downsizing anymore, it’s called right sizing. Every time, we move someone out of a house, it costs us €3,000-€4,000 minimum to return that house they have left to appropriate use. We don’t have that money at the moment. As of now, transfers are restricted.”
Lawlor said that apartments were the way forward for the future. “We’re going to be seeing a lot more of them.” She added that housing complexes like Lis Na Dara in Dundalk would no longer get planning permission, even for their two story properties. She told the meeting that under current directives, builds would need to be six stories.