Call for sensitive one-off housing


Rural one-off housing in Co Wexford is too often based on standard plans which have no sympathy with the landscape in which they are built, according to an environmental analysis of the county.

The analysis - Wexford Heritage and the challenge of change - has been compiled by Camolin-based consultant Mr Anthony Divall and lavishly illustrated by photographer Mr Dermot O'Connor.

It details Wexford heritage, both natural and man-made, as well as listing all statutory bodies and useful environmental organisations.

Included too is a list of Wexford's bird life, as well as descriptions of the various designated sites in the county.

The book covers the period from the Stone Age to the modern era and its commentary pulls no punches.

According to Mr Divall, the modern era has the power to destroy several millennia of heritage in one lifetime.

In a section on sensitive building procedures, Mr Divall's comments reflect much of the current debate on one-off housing in rural areas.

While not condemning outright such houses, he points out that they should be built to a sympathetic design.

Mr Divall says care should be taken to avoid breaking down existing hedgerows, or choosing sites which are too high on hillsides.

In more built-up areas, one-off housing should match scale, line, frontage and materials to existing properties, he said. Mr Divall's comments came as figures released by the Department of the Environment revealed that almost 50 per cent of new housing in Wexford is comprised of one-off bungalows.

In 2001, 1,995 new homes were built of which 904 were bungalows and 450 were single detached houses.

Taken together the bungalows and detached houses account for 68 per cent of all new houses in the county during 2001.

While planning authorities have difficulty in bringing services to these type of houses, the Rural Dwellers Association points out that without the sale of sites for one-off housing, many people could not afford to live in a rural community and they claim the existence of such communities is threatened.

According to Mr Divall's book, the answer lies in sustainable development. The book is available from Wexford County Partnership, Mill Park Road, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.