North Tipperary County Council and the new Tipperary County Council has been encouraged to buy land for the purposes of building houses, eventhough the Department of the Environment is currently not supporting such activity.
Citing a number of key strategic parcels of land available for purchase in rural and urban areas across the county, Councillor John Hogan encouraged the local authority to do all in their power to secure funding from the department to purchase the sites. He also suggested that should the department not be willing to do so, the council should exercise foresight and fund the purchase from internal funding.
“There is land available in Roscrea, Templemore, Thurles and in other rural locations which could be purchased at the right price. We have a huge housing list at the moment but we do not seem to have a long term plan as to how to deal with this. Land that you could build 100 houses on can now be purchased for the price of one house and we should be planning for the next twenty years and be proactive,” Cllr Hogan said.
County Manager Mr Joe MacGrath said that the council has land in many locations already but there are no building allocations forthcoming. The council would always be looking for opportunities to purchase land, he said, but he added that they could not purchase from internal capital receipts as there was no guarantee that the expenditure could be made back within a reasonable period of time.
“We have been keeping a very close eye on the whole area of housing provision in the sense of unfinished estates and up-grades etc. That is where the focus is at currently. We submit a programme for housing provision each year but there have been no substantial allocations in recent times. Local authorities who went out and bought land in the past have found themselves in great difficulties and that is not a route I am willing to go down.” Mr MacGrath said.
Councillor Denis Ryan said that housing provision is a major area for the council and he agreed that a plan should be devised for long term. Mayor Ger Darcy suggested that the department be written to seeking a special allocation while Cllr Seamus Morris said that vacated houses are all over the county and a major problem with provision is staring them in the face.
Mr MacGrath agreed to write to the department in relation to the issue and also pointed out that North Tipperary did very well with the recent allocation for an upgrade to a Roscrea housing estate.