Former Donegal Mayor “mystified” by objections to social housing

War of words erupts over Buncrana social housing development

Nicholas Crossan

Former Donegal Mayor Nicholas Crossan “mystified” by objections to social housing

A war of words has erupted between two Donegal Councillors regarding the construction of a social housing development.

Speaking to Donegal Live about the proposed development at Crana View and Crana Crescent in Buncrana, Cllr Nicholas Crossan (Independent) said he was “completely mystified” about objections to the proposal.

Cllr Crossan said: “I was the only Buncrana councillor who voted in favour of the building of social housing on this site when it was discussed at a meeting of Donegal County Council a number of months ago. I was adamant the houses needed to be built in order to provide homes for 19 families.

“The objections at that time centred on there being too many cars in the area and not enough turning. As a result, the development was reduced to 16 houses and at Monday's meeting of Donegal County Council the vote to build the houses was carried by 19 votes to 9.

“Sinn Féin voted against the housing, which is against its trend. In fact, two of the Buncrana councillors voted against the development. There concerns were that the development is going to give rise to extra traffic and that it was not going to be safe on the roads.

“I think they should tell that to the people who are maybe not going to get a home to live in. I am clear that I voted for this development because I believe that people are entitled to a home. We have 611 families in Inishowen without proper housing. They are in private rented accommodation. Donegal County Council is now building more than 100 houses in Buncrana, between Rocky Town and Crana View / Crana Crescent, which will go a long way towards easing the housing list. There are 42% of the people in Inishowen in housing need are in the Buncrana area,” said Cllr Crossan.

Cllr Crossan added that housing was the top issue councillors deal with on a daily basis.

He said: “The biggest job that a councillor has at the present time is securing housing for people. How anybody can vote against housing is beyond me. I am mystified.

“These are state-of-the-art, energy efficient homes. The biggest demand we have is for two-bedroom houses and apartments and there are going to be 14, two-bedroom houses built here along with 2 three-bedroom houses. It is going to be a nice development. I do not understand why my fellow councillors would object to the building of these houses. I am also going to propose the building of an inner relief road for the development.

“If the proposal had been voted down on Monday, Donegal County Council would have lost the money earmarked for it. Can you imagine throwing back the money for 16 new houses to the Department and saying we don't want it? It is hard enough to get money down to Donegal.

“This is our own land. It is not costing us anything. It was an in-house development, so costs were kept down. All that money drawing plans would have been wasted if the project had been voted down. And God only knows what the Department would say to us if we handed back €2 million to €3 million,” said Cllr Crossan.

However, Cllr Jack Murray (Sinn Féin) described Monday's vote on the proposed housing development as “extremely disappointing”.

Cllr Murray added; “The vote showed a complete disregard for the concerns of local residents.

"All 42 homes in Crana View, collectively, made a detailed submission which supported the construction of new public housing but raised legitimate road safety concerns. Those concerns have been ignored.

"It is disingenuous for anyone to suggest that the residents, or anyone who voted against the plan in its current format, is against social housing. The residents' submission is crystal clear in their support for housing.

"Buncrana has suffered because of poor planning and the construction of housing developments without proper infrastructure being constructed in advance. The Aghilly Road and the serious road safety concerns of residents in the nearby developments is testament to that. We need to learn from that and work so that those mistakes aren't repeated,” said Cllr Murray.

Cllr Murray said he believed the message given at Monday's meeting of Donegal County Council was “reasonable and very straightforward”.

He added: “The road into the development needs to come from the inner relief road, to ensure the safety of residents and build the houses.

"Unfortunately the vote was won by councillors who did not engage with local residents and had no understanding or consideration for their concerns. I feel they have been treated with contempt."

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