Aras an Chontae, the HQ of Mayo County Counci

Mayo County Council urged to get moving fast on new housing scheme

Mayo County Council should get moving immediately on the Ready to Build scheme announced today by the government.

That was the view of local councillors at the September monthly meeting of Ballina Municipal District today.

The scheme, which will be funded under the Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund, will see Mayo County Council make available serviced sites in towns and villages at discounted rates for individual purchasers who wish to build their own home in the county.

The sites will be sold at a discounted rate of up to €30,000 from the market value.

The discount will be determined by the cost of servicing the site.

Details of the scheme were revealed as the issue of housing was being debated at the meeting in Ballina.

It came up as the head of Ballina MD, Declan Turnbull, revealed that small housing schemes in towns in the area, including Crossmolina and Bonniconlon, have been completed, with just the 50-house Rehins Fort project in Ballina currently ongoing.

It is hoped that 20 of those houses will be completed by the end of this year or early next year, with the remainder to be completed during 2023.

The level of activity in the housing market is simply not enough, council members pointed out.

“Housing is what stands out all the time for people,” said Councillor Seamus Weir.

“I think we're not getting to grips with social or affordable housing, or any sort of housing. There is huge demand out there.”

The housing need is something Ballina MD should press for with the council's housing department in Castlebar, Councillor Michael Loftus added, while Councillor Annie May Reape pointed out that while the 50 houses in Rehins Fort were welcome, three times that amount were needed – maybe more.

Councillor Jarlath Munnelly highlighted the announcement of the Ready to Build scheme and said it could work in all towns in the MD. “It's exactly what we need to make our towns more vibrant,” he said.

He pointed out that the council itself owns lands in local towns and just needs to install services. “This MD needs to get moving on this straightaway.”

Councillor Mark Duffy, cathaoirleach of Ballina MD, agreed there is a need for more housing locally, adding that a meeting with the council's head of housing was required to consider projects that could be put forward.


Tom Gilligan, director of services, said there has been great interest throughout the county in the recently announced Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund Scheme, which makes a grant of up to a maximum of €30,000 available for the refurbishment of vacant properties for occupation as a principal private residence (plus a maximum top-up grant amount of up to €20,000 where the property is confirmed by the applicant to be derelict, i.e. structurally unsound and dangerous).

He said uptake of that scheme would help with housing and also town centre regeneration, and welcomed the fact that it is to be expanded to more rural areas too. He also pointed out that a local authority home loan may be available to people who were refused in relation to mortgage offers.

In terms of social housing, he said the council hopes to have an application in respect of Westport before the department by the end of the month.

Mr. Gilligan added that the private sector needs to start delivering houses too. As for the council, it's on track to deliver and in fact exceed its housing targets.

“We're not on target,” Councillor Reape countered. “We're miles away. I wish we could say we are on target.”

The director of services said the council had exceeded its target in relation to the Rebuilding Ireland programme. “We delivered in relation to that,” he stated.

Councillor Weir said he would like to see developments such as the one planned for Westport balanced throughout the county. He also agreed that private developments were needed but wondered if there was any incentive for them.

Concluding the debate, Councillor Duffy reiterated his call for a roundtable debate with the council's housing department to discuss housing schemes for Ballina.