Struggle to get planning for log cabin in Co Kildare

Mobile homes proliferate as planning restrictions prevent log cabins from getting the green light, according to aspiring self-builder Becky Byrne.

Becky Byrne has been living for seven years in a mobile home behind her parents’ house and aspires to build her own home; her partner and his child moved into the mobile home last year.

“Even though we have both worked full time since finishing school/college, neither of us have been in a position to save for a deposit for a house due to unavoidable circumstances in our lives,” explains Becky.

“We can get a loan for up to €70,000 off our credit union without a deposit, but they won’t give it to us unless we have planning permission.”

“My parents have an acre of land behind their house; you can drive all the way around so we have access for cars and can put our own entrance in,” says Becky.

“They have offered to give us half of this land or more if we need more depending on septic tank requirements for a percolation area.”

“We’re not looking to build a mansion or a two storey or even a dormer, just a bungalow, so our family can have a home.”

“Because they are more affordable we are hoping to build a standard log cabin about 1,000-1,200 sqft in size. You can get a three-bed log cabin that is turnkey for less than €60,000.”

“We can’t afford to build a brick house but we can get planning permission for one. The next best thing to a log home that we could find was timber frame, but you’re still looking at €100/€120k for a similar house and a longer build period. We can’t currently get a loan for that much so that’s not an option for us either.”

Becky’s experience

“I have previously approached Kildare County Council (on more than one occasion), to ask about applying for planning permission for a residential log cabin and I have been told each time to not bother as they won’t approve planning permission for log cabins.”

“Our log cabin would be even further back than a bricks-and-mortar house would have to be, and further away from my parents’ house and our neighbours’ houses (bearing in mind that our neighbours have no issues with us living here).”

“Right down the very back of the field is where we want to build. At the moment the mobile is just to the left of this photo, near my mam and dad’s and the neighbours.”

Becky has set up a petition to change planning policies to allow for log cabin homes to be built, with a target of 50,000 signatures.

At the moment the online petition is capped at a 5,000 signature target but it will increase as more people sign it. Becky also plans to start contacting politicians to garner further support.

In it she says: “More and more young families are being forced to live in mobiles and unsuitable/tiny houses or are still living with their parents when they have children of their own.”

“I know we are not alone in this struggle, I have seen mobile after mobile pop up in peoples gardens over the last number of years since I got mine and I know this would provide so many young families with their permanent home, including mine.”

Kildare County Council statement

Kildare County Council gave the following statement to Selfbuild when asked what their policy is in relation to log homes:

“Chapter 16 of the Kildare County Development Plan 2017 – 2023 sets out Council policy regarding the general design of rural houses. It identifies overall characteristics to assist in the design of proposals for one off houses in County Kildare including (but not limited to) appropriate house design, site layout and finish materials. Section 16.4.1 suggests that log cabins are not “vernacular typologies” of the Kildare countryside and are therefore not generally considered appropriate, save in suitable settings where other criteria in relation to the design and siting of the structure are met.”

“Chapter 16 of the CDP also identifies that indigenous materials should be selected with care to ensure that they are easily absorbed into the receiving environment with relatively low maintenance.”

“Each application for Planning Permission (including those seeking permission for Log Cabins) is considered on its merits and in the context of the particular location and site.”

Kerry County Council

Meanwhile, a well known Kerry musician has been asked to remove his temporary mobile timber home from his site; over the past 13 years Breanndán Begley has been applying to build his permanent home on family land and has been consistently refused planning permission.

More on this story from RTÉ.

 

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Written by Astrid Madsen

Astrid Madsen is the editor of SelfBuild & Improve Your Home magazine. She previously held the same role in an Irish trade publication, before that she worked at the National Standards Authority of Ireland. She graduated with a BA in Urban Studies from Columbia University in New York and holds an MBA from the Instituto de Estudios Bursatiles in Madrid. France of origin, she now lives in Portarlington, County Laois, where she's taken on the task of renovating a listed building! Email astrid.madsen@selfbuild.ie

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