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One-off houses: Good or Bad?

  • 26-09-2009 6:15pm
    #1
    Closed Accounts Posts: 6,093 ✭✭✭ Amtmann


    Let's face it: One-off houses affect every aspect of infrastructural provision and maintenance in this country from motorway construction to town size; from hospital, school and waste management centre efficiency to broadband development and railway usage; and from water treatment and the telecommunications network to sewage systems.

    My view is that one-off houses have been a disaster for Ireland. I would like to see a nucleated concentration of houses rather than the scattered bungaloe blitz which currently dots our landscape. But this change is not on the political agenda, and people across the country would be likely to fiercely oppose any moves to ban one-off houses.

    Why?

    Well, in my view the reasons are cultural and historical. Here's my hypothesis:
    The lack of an Irish industrial revolution in the 1800s allowed dispersed, pre-industrial rural settlement patterns to endure to the present day. This meant that when republicanism took root here in the early twentieth century it did so in a rural context ('rural republicanism') which was - and remains - predominantly conservative and inward looking. (In almost every other country political radicalism was an urban phenomenon.) This of course happened in tandem with the expulsion of the landlord class, and the disintegration of their holdings into much smaller privately-owned farms, which are the source today of all the bothersome one-off houses. These cut away the population density from our cities that would have enabled us to have three or four large population centres, good services, and a proper countryside used for agriculture and recreation.
    In my view modern technology like cars, computers abd phones continues to make pre-industrial settlement patterns viable.

    The notion that one-off houses are a feature of Irish culture has been thoroughly embedded in the national psyche (if such a thing exists), and, although I am on shaky ground here, I have a hunch that institutions like the GAA play a role in perpetuating this attitude. I suspect that the local club forms a bond, a reinforced form of parochial camaraderie if you will, which emphasises an 'us versus them' mentality. Some people from villages and the surrounding countryside seem to want to build one-off houses in their parish in part because of the parochial sense of community that the local club engenders. I'm not sure that any other European country has a cultural phenomenon akin to our GAA, though I'm happy to be corrected on this.
    That's my stall. I'm not going to engage in an endless debate on what I've written above; if you disagree, fine. Spell it out and I'll read it and take it on board. But I'd like to hear other peoples' views in general on the one-off housing phenomenon and how it affects infrastructure provision here.


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,905 ✭✭✭ Aard


    Am I right in saying that the convoluted emerging preferred route for the Adare bypass is because of one-off housing? Are there similar situations where these houses prohibit a more direct route for road or rail? If so, why can't they CPO the land and just plough straight through it?


    To answer your question - I believe one-off housing to be bad. The ultimate cost of these houses must be exponentially higher than those in an urban setting.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 624 Aidan1


    In short, I agree completely.

    The impact of the cult of the rural homestead cannot be overestimated. It impedes efficient delivery of all kinds of services, from schooling, to telecoms, energy and a whole range of social services. It adds to the cost of all of these services, including those both publicly and privately provided, and also adds to the draw on taxes to cover universal services.

    I won't comment on the analysis of the social and political impact, because I don't have anything to add. I do suspect that Furet and I spent time studying in the same place though.

    In terms of the solution, leaving the politics of this aside for a moment, I agree that reinforcing the existing urban hierarchy is the way to go, although I would prefer to concentrate development in those higher order centers (above 15,000 people), because of the economies of scale that begin to accrue at that point in terms of service provision.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,219 invincibleirish


    I don’t think that there is an inherent attraction to one off housing embedded in the Irish psyche, perhaps more so in decades gone by when agriculture dominated our economy but Irelands urban:rural ratio has been rising in on the side of urban dwelling has it not?(am open to correction).

    I think instead things such as this countries industrial development policies in recent decades which allowed for a scattergun approach to locating industry and subsequent infrastructural improvements which has allowed one off housing to thrive, that and the lax/corrupt approach to planning permission in this country.

    This relates back to political culture, the PR-STV system allows for a parochial culture to flourish more then any residual attraction to the local GAA team, your local TD promises you he’ll build your motorway and deliver you jobs to your local area whilst your local Cllr will pull a few strings to ensure you get PP for your Greenfield site and perhaps help with your farmer uncles plan to rezone some of his agri land 2km outside small town x. Why move to a city when there is a factory hiring locally and you know you can build a cheap house wherever you like?.

    In essence I argue that one off housing and its continued popularity is a symptom of Irelands failure to plan in a logical manner


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,476 ✭✭✭ ardmacha


    People wish to live in small communities which give them a sense of belonging rather than anonymous urban centres where they have no contact with their neighbours. The benefits of communities to quality of life go far beyond mere practicalities, which can always be attended to. The services must meet the needs of the people, not the people be reorganised for the convenience of the services.

    Larger places have advantages and will always tend to attract people. The situation in Ireland is a reflection of inadequate planning in towns as much as any laxity in planning in the countryside. Irish towns do not have the excellent public transport etc that would give them advantages. But they have had extremely expensive property, vastly enriching a handful of landowners in these places. This has driven people to seek cheaper housing elsewhere and leads to economic pressure for political corruption. The recent Green Party tax on property gain is the start of a more rational policy. People can then afford to live in a town, if they wish. If they prefer to maintain the communities of their ancestors then this is a positive thing too, but there should not be perverse incentives to live in one place rather than the other and good detailed planning should be required.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 25,234 ✭✭✭✭ Sponge Bob


    Much one off housing is simply a reaction to shoddily built unserviced plains of semis from the 1960s to the 1990s ..eg Tallaght and Lucan and latterly to the plasterboard shoebox apartments .

    You had nothing in those estates , no schools shops etc .


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 21,727 Godge


    One-off housing is fine so long as the full economic cost is paid.

    first example: You can get broadband in any urban location because those residents sacrificed their right to one-off housing and lived close together. The full cost of extending broadband to rural one-off housing should be charged to those who want that way of life.

    second example: meals on wheels and care in the community work for those eldery living in close-knit communities. Those living in once-off housing should be charged for the service.

    bottom line is that there is a charge to the state in providing servces to one-off housing (water, heating, electricity, telecommunications, social services etc.) No problem with anyone who wants the added benefits of one-off housing and rural amenities but they should also pay the additional costs.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 25,234 ✭✭✭✭ Sponge Bob


    eh ??

    they do , rural communities do their own meals on wheels as there is no service , rural people pay standing charges for electricity unlike urban people and get no broadband ...it ain't there full stop.

    as for roads and water like you get in urban areas, don't make me laugh :(


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,110 KevR


    I think one off housing is bad. As already mentioned they make the providing of infrastructure a lot more difficult than it needs to be.

    Also, it has ruined our once beautiful countryside. I visit England quite a bit and I travel around by rail and road aswell as actually flying over the country. I have to say their countryside is a lot nicer than ours, there's far less one off houses; just untouched countryside. Which is staggering when you think that England's population is 40 million in a land area of 130,000km/sq (not including Scotland, Wales or NI in those figures) compared to our 4 million population in 70,000km/sq.

    To be fair though I think the ridiculous prices houses got to in our cities had a lot to do with it. For example, I have cousins who were born in Galway City, grew up here, have decent jobs here and yet couldn't afford to buy a house in this city. Instead they had to buy one off houses out in the country, 25-30 miles outside the city (houses in the country weren't exactly cheap either!). It was the exact same for many people in Dublin, Cork and Limerick.
    Whereas house prices didn't go as crazy in England. If you had a decent job in London or Manchester you could more than likely afford a house in that same city.

    But there were also people in Ireland who had more money than they knew what to do with so they moved out to the country and built a house as big as a hotel for their family of four..

    I wouldn't agree with the point that there is a greater sense of belonging in rural communities. From having relatives, work colleagues and friends living in both in Galway City and County, my experience is that country people are a lot more bad minded and begrudging towards their neighbours, always giving out and gossiping about them behind their back. I wouldn't exactly call that a sense of belonging! Townies are a lot friendlier and more open minded. I personally have good contact with my neighbours.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 583 MT


    I was going to make a foray into the infrastructure forum to start a thread on this topic. I'm glad I was beaten to it as others clearly share my views.

    One-off housing in the countryside really irks me. I'll admit that I come at this from a mainly aesthetic concern but I just can't help finding it all so hideous. I also have an interest in this as I live in an area that appears to be at the cross roads between the blight that affects many parts of the Republic and some semblance of a residual planning policy.

    Here in the beautiful county of Fermanagh I find myself aghast when peering over the border into probably one of the least planned regions in Western Europe: the Republic's North West. Boy are places like Donegal a sight to behold. It's just shocking. Rural roads are now literally lined with giant pebble dashed monstrosities after stretched yellow bungalows after weird hybrid architectural fantasies that seem to combine the Georgian period, something of a Spanish Hacienda and with a conservatory attached for good measure. It's got really dense now with houses literally cheek by jowel.

    Indeed, the density along rural roads in the 'countryside' – stretching unchecked all the way from one village to the next – in places like Donegal, Leitrim, Cavan, Sligo, etc. is such that one-off housing is becoming something of a misnomer. These aren't isolated standalone houses in some Arcadian paradise, at least not up here in the Republic's northwest; this is now an all out suburbanisation of the countryside. There is just mansion after villa endlessly, and probably about a third of these are holiday homes. Excluding, conserved mountain ranges – and believe me some of the builders/farmers in this neck of the woods would stick a house anywhere if they could get away with it – views that don't contain at least five or more houses have long since become extinct.

    Needless to say house design shows no connection with or sympathy for the immediate area or its history; it's all big, bigger still and uber-brash. Not to mention how every property's giant boundary walls are out of all proportion and scale to the little roads they line – who are they trying to keep out… planners? But this is a needless focus on the particular; it’s their collective impact that has devastated the region.

    The towns and villages in these parts are a site to behold too. Think 1950s Ireland only even more decrepit and with even more peeling paint. Put simply, with the total lack of planning restrictions, the middle classes have said thanks very much and upped and left. They've taken with them not just their presence but also their money and any chance of a middle class interest in urban renewal. In short, this is a region with sprawled over countryside and sh!thole towns. A nightmare for anyone with an interest in planning and the aesthetics of the built/unbuilt environment.

    The only people that seem to have gained in these parts are those that are ironically lauded in the region as the salt of the earth; two bit, greasy till developers and daaysint Bull McCabe type farmers are in a sweat to outdo each other over which can grow and harvest the most houses. Developers get to do housing parks on the cheap – they just use the existing roads – while charging a premium for a supposed rural house; with the decline of agriculture sites are the new cash crop of the small farmer.

    Why am I concerned about all this? Well it seems to be a tidal wave that's unlikely to stop at the border. Despite Fermanagh being a gem of a rural county with still much unspoilt countryside, the locals are green – hah, there's a laugh as you'll not find much of that colour over the border in years to come – with envy at the free for all next door. Most have already built themselves 'one-off' houses in Donegal and now want to live permanently in one somewhere amongst the hills and dales of Fermanagh – which ironically means the end of the hills and dales.

    Indeed, some of the more nationalists peeps here have remonstrated that our 'alien' and restrictive rural planning laws are yet another Brit imposition and a denial of our Irishness. Was bungalow blitz really in the proclamation? Anyway, accordingly the authorities here have acquiesced and there's now a slow but steady war of attrition between the cement mixer and the green hills of this soon to be destroyed lakeland paradise. I see plans for a national park across the county have been quietly dropped.

    I suppose there might be a sociological observation lurking somewhere in all this. Is it possible that Irish people have some perverse, deep seated hatred for both towns and the countryside? Or is that too harsh a judgement on their willingness to leave the former to crumble into the ground while pouring concrete over the latter?

    Sorry, couldn't help a rant. This whole thing is maddening.

    I guess we'll be taking our kids on holidays to England, Scotland and Wales… hell, maybe even Holland:eek: and Germany, in decades to come so that they can have at least a fleeting glimpse of what countryside looks like.


  • Moderators, Education Moderators Posts: 4,816 Mod ✭✭✭✭ G_R


    MT wrote: »
    I was going to make a foray into the infrastructure forum to start a thread on this topic. I'm glad I was beaten to it as others clearly share my views.

    One-off housing in the countryside really irks me. I'll admit that I come at this from a mainly aesthetic concern but I just can't help finding it all so hideous. I also have an interest in this as I live in an area that appears to be at the cross roads between the blight that affects many parts of the Republic and some semblance of a residual planning policy.

    Here in the beautiful county of Fermanagh I find myself aghast when peering over the border into probably one of the least planned regions in Western Europe: the Republic's North West. Boy are places like Donegal a sight to behold. It's just shocking. Rural roads are now literally lined with giant pebble dashed monstrosities after stretched yellow bungalows after weird hybrid architectural fantasies that seem to combine the Georgian period, something of a Spanish Hacienda and with a conservatory attached for good measure. It's got really dense now with houses literally cheek by jowel.

    Indeed, the density along rural roads in the 'countryside' – stretching unchecked all the way from one village to the next – in places like Donegal, Leitrim, Cavan, Sligo, etc. is such that one-off housing is becoming something of a misnomer. These aren't isolated standalone houses in some Arcadian paradise, at least not up here in the Republic's northwest; this is now an all out suburbanisation of the countryside. There is just mansion after villa endlessly, and probably about a third of these are holiday homes. Excluding, conserved mountain ranges – and believe me some of the builders/farmers in this neck of the woods would stick a house anywhere if they could get away with it – views that don't contain at least five or more houses have long since become extinct.

    Needless to say house design shows no connection with or sympathy for the immediate area or its history; it's all big, bigger still and uber-brash. Not to mention how every property's giant boundary walls are out of all proportion and scale to the little roads they line – who are they trying to keep out… planners? But this is a needless focus on the particular; it’s their collective impact that has devastated the region.

    The towns and villages in these parts are a site to behold too. Think 1950s Ireland only even more decrepit and with even more peeling paint. Put simply, with the total lack of planning restrictions, the middle classes have said thanks very much and upped and left. They’ve taken with them not just their presence but also their money and any chance of a middle class interest in urban renewal. In short, this is a region with sprawled over countryside and sh!thole towns. A nightmare for anyone with an interest in planning and the aesthetics of the built/unbuilt environment.

    The only people that seem to have gained in these parts are those that are ironically lauded in the region as the salt of the earth: two bit, greasy till developers and daaysint Bull McCabe type farmers are in a sweat to outdo each other over which can grow and harvest the most houses. Developers get to do housing parks on the cheap – they just use the existing roads – while charging a premium for a supposed rural house; with the decline of agriculture sites are the small farmers' new cash crop.

    Why am I concerned about all this? Well it seems to be a tidal wave that's unlikely to stop at the border. Despite Fermanagh being a gem of a rural county with still much unspoilt countryside, the locals are green – hah, there's a laugh as you'll not find much of that colour over the border in years to come – with envy at the free for all next door. Most have already built themselves 'one-off' houses in Donegal and now want to live permanently in one somewhere amongst the hills and dales of Fermanagh – which ironically means the end of the hills and dales.

    Indeed, some of the more nationalists peeps here have remonstrated that our 'alien' and restrictive rural planning laws are yet another Brit imposition and a denial of our Irishness. Was bungalow blitz really in the proclamation? Anyway, accordingly the authorities here have acquiesced and there's now a slow but steady war of attrition between the cement mixer and the green hills of this soon to be destroyed lakeland paradise. I see plans for a national park across the county have been quietly dropped.

    I suppose there might be an anthropological observation lurking somewhere in all this. Is it possible that Irish people have some perverse, deep seated hatred for both towns and the countryside? Or is that too harsh a judgement on their willingness to leave the former to crumble into the ground while pouring concrete over the latter?

    Sorry, couldn’t help a rant. This whole thing is maddening.

    I guess we'll be taking our kids on holidays to England, Scotland and Wales… hell, maybe even Holland:eek: and Germany, in decades to come so that they can have at least a fleeting glimpse of what countryside looks like.
    +1
    excellent post, nothing more to add to that


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  • Registered Users Posts: 83 ✭✭✭ Enbee


    I don't think bungalow blight is as bad as suburban sprawl. That's probably been even worse as far as infrastructural development is concerned.

    Just look at the state of Dublin's burbs. Huge swathes of the city beyond the canals is loosely packed houses with large - and largely unused - gardens that are all an irritating distance from amenities and public transport. Is it any wonder that commuting is such a nightmare?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 24 ✭✭✭ jamesblonde


    Furet wrote: »
    Let's face it: One-off houses affect every aspect of infrastructural provision and maintenance in this country from motorway construction to town size; from hospital, school and waste management centre efficiency to broadband development and railway usage; and from water treatment and the telecommunications network to sewage systems.

    My view is that one-off houses have been a disaster for Ireland. I would like to see a nucleated concentration of houses rather than the scattered bungaloe blitz which currently dots our landscape. But this change is not on the political agenda, and people across the country would be likely to fiercely oppose any moves to ban one-off houses.

    Why?

    Well, in my view the reasons are cultural and historical. Here's my hypothesis:
    The lack of an Irish industrial revolution in the 1800s allowed dispersed, pre-industrial rural settlement patterns to endure to the present day. This meant that when republicanism took root here in the early twentieth century it did so in a rural context ('rural republicanism') which was - and remains - predominantly conservative and inward looking. (In almost every other country political radicalism was an urban phenomenon.) This of course happened in tandem with the expulsion of the landlord class, and the disintegration of their holdings into much smaller privately-owned farms, which are the source today of all the bothersome one-off houses. These cut away the population density from our cities that would have enabled us to have three or four large population centres, good services, and a proper countryside used for agriculture and recreation.
    In my view modern technology like cars, computers abd phones continues to make pre-industrial settlement patterns viable.

    The notion that one-off houses are a feature of Irish culture has been thoroughly embedded in the national psyche (if such a thing exists), and, although I am on shaky ground here, I have a hunch that institutions like the GAA play a role in perpetuating this attitude. I suspect that the local club forms a bond, a reinforced form of parochial camaraderie if you will, which emphasises an 'us versus them' mentality. Some people from villages and the surrounding countryside seem to want to build one-off houses in their parish in part because of the parochial sense of community that the local club engenders. I'm not sure that any other European country has a cultural phenomenon akin to our GAA, though I'm happy to be corrected on this.
    That's my stall. I'm not going to engage in an endless debate on what I've written above; if you disagree, fine. Spell it out and I'll read it and take it on board. But I'd like to hear other peoples' views in general on the one-off housing phenomenon and how it affects infrastructure provision here.

    I'd agree generally with your analysis.
    One-off housing has been a total disaster for quality of life in Ireland.
    Long commutes, terrible broadband, car-based society.
    Commuting is, in fact, the worst affect, as it means families have less time to be engaged socially in the community and voluntary work. Commuting is also "dead time".
    Why irish people are more obsessed with "dead money" (i.e., renting) than "dead time" boggles me!


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,094 ✭✭✭ Clanket


    Friend of mine is being charged €2,500 by ESB to have his new house (built beside his parents house in a suburb in Dublin) connected to the national grid. He was told by them that this is the standard price everyone pays when being connected, no matter where you live in Ireland.

    The actual cost to connect his house is probably less than €500 (2 hours labour, literally plugging him in) while I'm sure the actual cost to connect a one off house is much higher (more cabling and man hours). So in effect by paying this standard amount, he is subsidising people that are building one off houses in the middle of nowhere.

    Madness.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,905 ✭✭✭ Aard


    Enbee wrote: »
    I don't think bungalow blight is as bad as suburban sprawl. That's probably been even worse as far as infrastructural development is concerned.

    Worse? The density in Dublin's suburbs is relatively higher than 'bungalow blight', making it easier and cheaper to provide infrastructure.


  • Registered Users Posts: 83 ✭✭✭ Enbee


    Aard wrote: »
    Worse? The density in Dublin's suburbs is relatively higher than 'bungalow blight', making it easier and cheaper to provide infrastructure.

    Well of course the population density is significantly higher. It's obviously better for comparatively cheap facilities but it's nowhere near high enough for larger projects. If it was Dublin might be a suitable candidate for a decent metro system. The suburbs are worse to the extent that they're neither urban nor rural but have urban traffic densities on glorified rural systems.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 54 ✭✭✭ tipptop2008


    I'm from the countryside and will return to there as soon as I can get a job at home. The arguments for rural housing costing more in costs is absolute nosense;

    1) Saying it costs more to connect ESB in the rural areas is simply wrong - the ESB wires pass on every road in the countryside and has done for decades, and therefore passes each new house;
    2) Broadband - eircom will only enable broadband lines in areas where they are economically viable and the vast majority of houses in the countryside have no broadband;
    3) Water - people in the countryside actually pay for their water either through their own wells or through a rural water scheme
    4) There is little or no public transport in rural areas and therefore there is no cost to the state for this unlike the vast urban areas
    5) Social services - all social services and hospitals are located in urban areas and ppl in the countryside have to go to these to receive services

    Overall living in the countryside is a much better way of living. I have lived in Dublin for 10 years now and have barely said hello to my neibhours and most of the ppl I know in Dublin are the exact same whereas down the country I know every single of my neighbours.


  • Registered Users Posts: 37,534 ✭✭✭✭ the_syco


    There are two sorts of one-off houses, imo.

    The first: someone from an urban area picks a spot, buys it, and builds a house on it. These are the worst, as they have no planning o them at all. They also are often in places "unspoilt", or, in other words, little or no infrastructure at all nearby.

    The other one-off houses are houses on land given to people by family, and are usually either nearby the main house, or located nearby other one-off houses. These houses are built with infrastucture in mind, and are often built to look similiar to nearby houses.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,476 ✭✭✭ ardmacha


    One-off housing has been a total disaster for quality of life in Ireland.

    The people who live in these houses believe it improves their quality of life. And before you say that it reduces everyone elses quality of life, there are many ugly buildings in towns and cities that also reduce the quality of life of those who visit these places.
    Long commutes, terrible broadband, car-based society.

    There are plenty of people in Dublin suburbs who drive their children in SUVs to schools 1km away.
    Commuting is, in fact, the worst affect, as it means families have less time to be engaged socially in the community and voluntary work

    Nonsense, many areas with dispersed population have vibrant community associations. Many urban areas have no sense of community whatsoever.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,093 ✭✭✭ Amtmann


    Interesting thread so far. Here's an article sent my way by Schuhart.
    By Mark Waters
    Thursday, September 18, 2003

    OK, this one's personal. One-off housing killed my cat.
    For much of my youth I lived in so-called ribbon development housing on the outskirts of Castlebar. The 'development' consisted of a number of one-off houses clinging to the sides of the busy main road. Each house was individually serviced with its own water supply, electricity supply and telephone line and septic tank. Each had its own access to the main road. Each had its own means of handling refuse disposal. In short, each dwelling was a castle, self-sufficient and living in splendid isolation from its neighbours.
    My cat was a beauty; her fur was a kaleidoscope of black, white and gold. We had rescued her from certain death after her mother -a stray- gave birth to a litter in a coal bag outside our house. She grew strong and healthy and one day produced a litter of her own. A few days after, following an unfortunate altercation with a neighbour's dog she decided it would be wise to take her five babies to a safer place. That place was in another neighbour's yard -on the other side of the busy main road.
    The arrangement worked well for a few days. The kittens were safe and their mother would cross the road a few times a day to be fed at our house. Then one day the inevitable happened. The cat was killed crossing the road by a motorist who was driving so fast that he probably didn't even notice. We did our best to nurse the motherless kittens but without their mother it was hopeless and one by one they faded away and died.
    Our cats paid the ultimate price but we ourselves suffered in little ways every day as a consequence of living in a one-off house. Services were inferior. Our electricity gave out a light that was a pale imitation of that of our friends in town. Our water supply had weak pressure. Our septic tank left our back garden looking like a marsh. Later when the internet arrived it came at a crawl. Our telephone line was so far from the telephone exchange that we would have been quicker driving two miles to the nearest shop and buying the newspaper rather than wait for it to download.
    And everything was so far away. Hours of our life were squandered travelling to and from school, to the sports clubs, swimming pool, and the houses of friends and, later on, to and from discos and pubs. Like most of our neighbours we were a single car household and huge demands were placed on the car. Cycling was an option only if you were willing to take your chances on the Russian roulette of the road.
    And the road itself was like a knife cutting through the heart of the community. It was so dangerous that you were taking your life into your own hands if you dared to visit your neighbour. So we didn't. We retreated into our castles, and to our televisions, barely connected to the world by our cars -the very things that were imprisoning us in our homes.
    This is the legacy of one-off housing and this is the reality of Bertie Ahern's notion of supporting one-off housing as a means of creating viable communities in the west.
    One-off housing developments may save the politicians at the next election and they may save the farmers by putting a few euros in their pockets to delay the inevitable day of reckoning before they finally accept that their lifestyle is unviable and unsustainable. But they will not save the farmers' sons and daughters. The farmers cry that their children cannot build on their land and are forced to leave. But it is not the lack of one-off housing that causes the sons and daughters to jump ship; it is the cost of living and the quality of life that the consequences of one-off developments force on them. They leave because to stay means to pay more for poorer services and to suffer boredom, loneliness and a denial of their potential to contribute to and enjoy a fully functioning community.
    A community of one-off houses has a serious disadvantage before it even starts out on the road to viability, sustainability and growth. Services cost more money and offer a poorer quality than they do in co-ordinated developments. Scarce resources are spread ever thinner across the landscape. The potential for economic development is limited. Everyone is pulling against everyone else instead of in the same direction.
    Co-ordinated development does not provide the solution to all our problems but it provides a more solid foundation from which to tackle them. It gives us the breathing space to fulfil the potential that is often frustrated by a lack of common purpose. The loneliness and isolation of the elderly and housebound, the struggle of the GAA clubs to make the numbers for teams, the difficulty teenagers face trying to get to the disco because it's twenty miles away, the drink-driving roller coaster home after a night at a pub because of the lack of taxis, the difficulty of organising a community festival; these are just a few of the things made more difficult to deal with when we have to first surmount the obstacle of a dysfunctional and disconnected community.
    We delude ourselves into thinking that one-off housing is about freedom and the rights of the individual. But if everyone is given complete freedom and the right to build where they like then no one is free. Everyone is compromised by everyone else. Without co-ordination the friction between individuals becomes so great that we all grind to a halt. With rights comes responsibilities. In the case of property rights these responsibilities are crucial. How landowners use their land has a huge impact on the broader society. It could be argued that many landowners are being so irresponsible in their attitude to the land that its potential for future generations has been irrecoverably damaged.
    We delude ourselves into thinking that this is Ireland and that we are different. Dr. Seamus Caulfield, well known for his work with the Ceide Fields, has suggested that the definition of an Irish village is different to that of its British or European counterpart. He says that housing of the one-off type, where dwellings could be up to two miles apart and still be considered part of the village, were commonplace in the west of Ireland for much of our recent history and that planning strategy should take this into account.
    But if we accept this argument then we must also acknowledge that many of these uniquely Irish villages were unviable and have all but disappeared and all those that do survive rely on the dubious foundations of farm subsidies and the release-valve of emigration to sustain them. To accept a one-off housing policy and to encourage development along the lines of the allegedly uniquely Irish village is to condemn us to repeat the mistakes of a past which few of us would wish to return to.
    We delude ourselves into thinking that our leaders don't have the vision and ability to solve the problem. But we have county development plans and national strategies -developed with strong input from politicians- which are often models of vision, reason and common-sense but which are then totally compromised by the short-term interests of the self-same politicians.
    The conflict between the short-term interests of politicians -always with an eye on the next election- and the long-term view of the planners has lead to a paralysis that has damaged the integrity of the planning process. Furthermore when politicians have the power to influence or reverse individual planning decisions it undermines confidence and defeats the whole point of the process. The politicians should only have the power to frame policy. Then they should let the planners get on with the job of implementing that policy.
    Support for a one-off housing policy is tantamount to support for no housing policy at all. It shows a lack of any vision or hope for the viability and sustainability of communities in the west of Ireland. The long term benefit is sacrificed on the altar of blind short-term individualist thinking, a way of thinking that has stifled our potential so often in the past. The archaeologists at the Ceide Fields with justifiable pride state that their discovery proves that there were human settlements in Mayo 5000 years ago. Looking at the settlements around me today it is hard to see that we have made much progress since.
    http://www.markingtime.org/articles/Articles/One-offHousingkilledmycat.html


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 29 ✭✭✭ gunbarrel


    I'm from the countryside and will return to there as soon as I can get a job at home. The arguments for rural housing costing more in costs is absolute nosense;

    1) Saying it costs more to connect ESB in the rural areas is simply wrong - the ESB wires pass on every road in the countryside and has done for decades, and therefore passes each new house;
    2) Broadband - eircom will only enable broadband lines in areas where they are economically viable and the vast majority of houses in the countryside have no broadband;
    3) Water - people in the countryside actually pay for their water either through their own wells or through a rural water scheme
    4) There is little or no public transport in rural areas and therefore there is no cost to the state for this unlike the vast urban areas
    5) Social services - all social services and hospitals are located in urban areas and ppl in the countryside have to go to these to receive services

    Overall living in the countryside is a much better way of living. I have lived in Dublin for 10 years now and have barely said hello to my neibhours and most of the ppl I know in Dublin are the exact same whereas down the country I know every single of my neighbours.

    The best point you make here is that most city folk have no idea what they are talking about when they whinge about one-off housing. The OP makes a reasoned contribution but after that it is just the usual ill informed gripe at rural life.

    People live in one-off housing because they want to and they can, it is simple really. You would swear that all these city folk moved to the cities to save the country money when in fact they moved because it suited them to do so i.e. work. I lived in a Dublin suburb in the late 90's and it was a two mile walk to a pub. Other than 1 supermarket there were no facilities within a few miles. How is that supposed to entice people to move to urban areas?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 131 ✭✭ ForiegnNational


    Can I turn this question slightly on it's head...

    First off, I do live in a one-off house, built on my wife's family farm in the 1970's (right got that out of the way), but I am in no way an advocate of the number of houses that have gained planning permission in this way.

    However, I have an issue with the argument "bigger/grouped is better" on the following grounds:

    1) Several villages around West Cork have grown extensively through the bubble with no infrastructure whatsoever. No new schools, no sewage works, no improvements to the road, no new shops, nothing that does not lead all of the people in these villages to have to take the same commute that I do, to larger towns to get their goods/services/groceries.

    2) There seems to be no effective "control" from planners when allowing for planning. Planning here in Ireland is still very much who-you-know and until this attitude changes, you will never be able to make sure that there is a coordinated infrastructure policy with regards new development

    3) Farmers still seem to have a "right" to build new houses on their land. There is no such automatic right in the UK. In many rural areas of the UK (even outside the greenbelts) there is absolutely no development of agricultural land available at all.

    4) The infrastructure is still lacking in and around major cities to prevent the huge number of urban car users (anybody care to remember the Cork LUAS promise that came from Bertie Ahern before the last election?). I work in a city and commute here everyday, but the majority of the traffic I meet is once I am in the city "school run zones"

    The system of controls and planning that is in place currently will continue to lead to the growth of one-off developments until it is entirely overhauled and a coordinated approach enforced.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,278 ✭✭✭ dubhthach


    Problem in Ireland is there is no proper planning be it urban or rural. As previous posters mentioned small towns expanded without any new schools/sewage treatment etc. The only reason why this happened is the expansion was driven in many places by local councillors forcing through changes to county/urban development plans against the advice of Planners.

    In such cases the only thing they thought about was lets rezone a chunk of land and let the "market" decide what to do with it. It was totally laissez faire. So as a result in Dublin you got tons of housing estates built with no facilities (shops/schools etc etc.) and out the country you got one off housing poping up in places it shouldn't have been allowed to (holiday homes in arse end of nowhere etc.).

    In an ideal world when decisions on zoning were been made around towns etc there should have been stipulations put in. Eg. We zone enough land for 500 houses but once you have 100 houses built you have to build a school before you can build anymore etc etc.

    However given that we live in a country where councillors can overturn the decisions of the planners and for example zone enough land around Ennis to cover for a population of 60,000 (without a plan for provision of services) then I wouldn't hold my breath.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 24 ✭✭✭ jamesblonde


    ardmacha wrote: »
    The people who live in these houses believe it improves their quality of life. And before you say that it reduces everyone elses quality of life, there are many ugly buildings in towns and cities that also reduce the quality of life of those who visit these places.
    So ugly buildings reduce quality of life for people who visit cities/towns?
    Do houses/appartments in urban areas have to be ugly?
    That's nonsense.
    So if people decide that towns are ugly, so I will leave them to live somewhere nice instead of staying and making the town nice - will that lead to a better society? That is what USA tried, and I argue it does not. Better the Berlin model, where city centres are vibrant, thriving, pleasant places to live with quality services. The Rural Ireland lobby has ensured that Dublin never was allowed to keep the resources it generated to make it a first world city. Even still, Dublin city centre is still a great place to live.


    There are plenty of people in Dublin suburbs who drive their children in SUVs to schools 1km away.
    What has that got to do with rural one-off housing?
    I'm also aghast at suburban semi-ds and low residential densities and the fact that schools are 1km away.
    Long commutes (1-2 hours) for people in one-off houses is bad in so many ways I won't even start.

    Nonsense, many areas with dispersed population have vibrant community associations. Many urban areas have no sense of community whatsoever.
    So, let's hear the rehearsed argument: townies == unfriendly; country folk == friendly. There is a good element of truth in it.
    However, I'm talking society trends here. Reduced community involvement is not correlated with increased urban living - just look at where I live in Sweden where community involvement is orders of magnitude higher than in Ireland. Reduced community involvement is, however, strongly correlated with increased working time for parents and increased commute times.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,419 ✭✭✭ Cool Mo D


    I'm from the countryside and will return to there as soon as I can get a job at home. The arguments for rural housing costing more in costs is absolute nosense;

    1) Saying it costs more to connect ESB in the rural areas is simply wrong - the ESB wires pass on every road in the countryside and has done for decades, and therefore passes each new house;

    This costs a fortune, and would not have to be done for every little road at all if it weren't for all the one-off housing. We wouldn't even need all the roads we have - another subsidy to one-off housing.
    2) Broadband - eircom will only enable broadband lines in areas where they are economically viable and the vast majority of houses in the countryside have no broadband;

    True enough.
    3) Water - people in the countryside actually pay for their water either through their own wells or through a rural water scheme

    They don't pay the full cost though - there is no ongoing inspection of septic tanks, and plenty of them are quietly polluting the countryside and will be for decades. How much will this cost to remedy? It wouldn't be an issue if the houses were close together enough to build a treatment plant for them.
    4) There is little or no public transport in rural areas and therefore there is no cost to the state for this unlike the vast urban areas

    Every year, the government spends as much on the rural schoolbus scheme as it does on Dublin bus, which moves ten times the number of people. Rural people get huge public transport spending. It just isn't effective because it's not possible to provide good public transport for one-off housing.
    5) Social services - all social services and hospitals are located in urban areas and ppl in the countryside have to go to these to receive services

    Overall living in the countryside is a much better way of living. I have lived in Dublin for 10 years now and have barely said hello to my neibhours and most of the ppl I know in Dublin are the exact same whereas down the country I know every single of my neighbours.

    Social services are in the urban areas, because that's where they can be within easy access of the most people. If you haven't said hello to your neighbours, that's your own issue, but to say there is no community in urban areas is rubbish. I moved into an urban apartment complex last month (a stereotypical Liam Carroll original "shoebox", no less) and I know several of my neighbours by now.

    I have nothing against rural living, as long as people are prepared to accept that rural dwellers are always going to be last in the queue to get public services, broadband, and good roads, because it takes so much more money to provide them. If you want all the conveniences of modern life, move to a town. If you want piece and quiet, and your own space, you can stay in the country.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,009 ✭✭✭ knipex


    GFrew up in a rural area.

    I lived in an urban centre for 15 years and now live in a rurual area.

    My main reason for doing so was space. I dont have a huge house (small 4 bed bungalo) but have space to keep dogs and build a shed.

    I buy and restore old cars as a hobby. i dont maek money at it but to me the best way to destress is to break out a sheet of metal and a mig welder and start replacing rust. I also like to service my own car.

    I remember one Sunday when I lived in the city I popped the hood on my "old car" to replace the exhaust manifold and back pipe and put in a new carb.

    I got so many funny looks and got a visit from the "residents association" asking me to stop as it detracted from the neighbourhood and lowered the tone of the estate.

    2 weeks later, Saturday morning of a bank holiday weekend I got a knock on my door from one of the same "association", His car wouldn't start and he was taking the family away from the weekend. He wanted to know if I would "have a look" at it for him...

    My first response was that I had been told that working on cars lowered the tone of the neighbourhood but after 5 minutes I grabbed a few tools and went to have a look. Got him going after a few hours (failed fuel pump managed to pick one up at a motor factors that had it in stock) but never got an apology.

    Now I can pull my car round the back and do what I want in peace.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 24 ✭✭✭ jamesblonde


    knipex wrote: »
    GFrew up in a rural area.

    I lived in an urban centre for 15 years and now live in a rurual area.

    My main reason for doing so was space. I dont have a huge house (small 4 bed bungalo) but have space to keep dogs and build a shed.

    I buy and restore old cars as a hobby. i dont maek money at it but to me the best way to destress is to break out a sheet of metal and a mig welder and start replacing rust. I also like to service my own car.

    I remember one Sunday when I lived in the city I popped the hood on my "old car" to replace the exhaust manifold and back pipe and put in a new carb.

    I got so many funny looks and got a visit from the "residents association" asking me to stop as it detracted from the neighbourhood and lowered the tone of the estate.

    2 weeks later, Saturday morning of a bank holiday weekend I got a knock on my door from one of the same "association", His car wouldn't start and he was taking the family away from the weekend. He wanted to know if I would "have a look" at it for him...

    My first response was that I had been told that working on cars lowered the tone of the neighbourhood but after 5 minutes I grabbed a few tools and went to have a look. Got him going after a few hours (failed fuel pump managed to pick one up at a motor factors that had it in stock) but never got an apology.

    Now I can pull my car round the back and do what I want in peace.

    This has nothing to do with one-off housing. Just that you had a crap resident's association. Semi-d estates in Ireland are also a disaster, but that's not the point of this thread. I grew up in a good semi-d, great neighbours. Doesn't prove anything.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,009 ✭✭✭ knipex


    This has nothing to do with one-off housing. Just that you had a crap resident's association. Semi-d estates in Ireland are also a disaster, but that's not the point of this thread. I grew up in a good semi-d, great neighbours. Doesn't prove anything.

    Never claimed it did.

    I was posting from a personal perspective as to why I decided to move from an urban to rural environment.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6 ✭✭✭ Handsome_Pete


    My GF and i recently bought a one off house in the country, we wanted to get out of the city and it was a decision we made, weighing up the pros and cons.

    I don't think anyone building or buying a house of this type is under any illusion that they're going to get services comparable to a major city or town, they know they'll have to supply their own water or pay to be connected to a main, if there's one near by, they know they'll have to pay extra if electricity and phones are not connected, (I thought ESB charged extra for connecting to one off houses based on the distance from the road, but i'm open to correction on that). And they know that broadband will almost certainly be non existant.

    Not every one is compatable with urban life and they shouldn't be forced to it, anyone making the decision to lead a rural live, IMO goes into it knowing that they're making a compromise, a cheaper house, more space, peace and quiet, less crime, and the trade off is, less services and amenities. The idea that the countryside be some empty place with nothing but farms, where city dwellers go to see trees and fields sounds like some kind of dystopian nightmare to me.

    That said, we should tighten up our planning laws, no bungalows anywhere near areas of natural beauty or historic importance, believe me, where we live is not somewhere someone would choose to visit anyway, generally i think bungalow blitz is only really noticeable when it is spoiling something, (bungalows next to glendalough spring to mind)

    Somewhat off topic, but i think a bigger problem is people in towns and cities buying one of houses in the country as holiday homes, houses that lie empty most of the year, and lead to some places, particularly on the coast, being virtual ghost towns


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 29 ✭✭✭ gunbarrel


    Cool Mo D wrote: »
    This costs a fortune, and would not have to be done for every little road at all if it weren't for all the one-off housing. We wouldn't even need all the roads we have - another subsidy to one-off housing.

    That is just a pile of unadulterated rubbish. To get from one big town to another you have to go through rural areas meaning you have to lay cables along the way. Ireland's road and electricity infrastructure, for the main part, was laid out years ago and was not done on the basis of one off-housing. To claim so shows a prejudice.
    They don't pay the full cost though - there is no ongoing inspection of septic tanks, and plenty of them are quietly polluting the countryside and will be for decades. How much will this cost to remedy? It wouldn't be an issue if the houses were close together enough to build a treatment plant for them.

    City folk dont pay the full cost either but you conveniently fail to mention that - shock, horror. In fact Dublin is running out of water and will soon have to pipe it up from the midlands:

    http://www.independent.ie/national-news/massive-artificial-lake-in-midlands-could-supply-dublins-water-1518402.html

    Should this cost be paid by Dublin only when it arises? Of course not.


    Every year, the government spends as much on the rural schoolbus scheme as it does on Dublin bus, which moves ten times the number of people. Rural people get huge public transport spending. It just isn't effective because it's not possible to provide good public transport for one-off housing.

    The Government has a legal obligation to ensure our children get education so you are not comparing like with like. It is just another lazy comparison fueled by prejudice. Like all children, these children have their education and upbringing subsidised as in the future they will make large contributions to the economy, paying back more than they received. That is how subsidies work.

    Where as the rural bus scheme is a long-term subsidy, Dublin bus is a short-term subsidy. They are not the same thing though, at this point in time, both are necessary.


    Social services are in the urban areas, because that's where they can be within easy access of the most people. If you haven't said hello to your neighbours, that's your own issue, but to say there is no community in urban areas is rubbish. I moved into an urban apartment complex last month (a stereotypical Liam Carroll original "shoebox", no less) and I know several of my neighbours by now.

    The poster was speaking of personal experience, as was I. If you had to live in the Earlsfort area of Lucan (beside Clondalkin) during the late 90's you would have seen a complete lack of services such as shops and pubs (bar one). There was no sense of community either. My experience in Raheny was the complete opposite but there are many parts of cities which are not pleasant places to live and some people dont want that type of life.

    As for the social services, rural people accept the extra expense of having to travel for these.
    I have nothing against rural living,

    Your ill informed lies tell a different story.
    as long as people are prepared to accept that rural dwellers are always going to be last in the queue to get public services, broadband, and good roads, because it takes so much more money to provide them.

    They do accept it but it does not stop people like you having a whinge about them.
    If you want all the conveniences of modern life, move to a town. If you want piece and quiet, and your own space, you can stay in the country.

    Of course, now any chance you might accept it.

    In my opinion there needs to be some sort of incentive in the big rural towns to try and attract people to live there. It will take time for Ireland to have the right balance of urban and rural living but whinging about it is not going to change things.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 492 ✭✭ rcunning03


    Are the greens going to do anything about the bungalow blitz? A few one off houses near a local town is fine but they are everywhere


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