A CALL for more investment to be made into helping locals live in rural areas across the county was made at a council meeting last week.
In reaction to a proposal that was passed to allow Fermanagh and Omagh District Council to have a single issue meeting with the housing executive to discuss suitable sites for social and affordable housing, Cllr Adam Gannon claimed that he would, ‘love to see investment in helping people live in rural areas’.
He stated, “Local knowledge will be key in ensuring any social housing project or building scheme will work and deliver for our people.”
It was revealed that a figure of 176 social houses were needed for the Enniskillen area alone, however, Cllr Gannon, pictured below, admitted that housing of this kind is essential for the wider rural parts of the county.
“Quite often when it’s planned from the centre, we miss out on that local knowledge that is a real benefit. Investment will be essential in supporting our fragile economy at this time.
“Enniskillen figures our particularly large and they are concerning but as a rural councillor I would love to see investment in helping people live in our rural areas and helping our rural areas to thrive as well.”
Cllr Thomas O’Reilly warned, “In rural areas of this district there is a need for housing also. There are lots of vacant sites in our towns and villages around this council area that have been started and no building ever completed on them.
“We have empty businesses in our towns that have space for flats above and two bed accommodation which is much sought after which could really help bring our town centres back to life.
“I propose that we write to the Minister and challenge the current process by which demand testing is done, as it does not give many people the opportunity to get on to the waiting list to allow citizens to live in the rural areas that they want to live in.
“The system by which people even get recorded as being in need for housing needs to change because we do not get a fair crack at the whip in rural areas to be able to get people even on to that list.
“Therefore, I would also propose that we write and ask that any future retrofit build whenever they come along is done to a passive standard so that it’s not a case of people from any age who live on benefits and in low incomes having to chose between eat or heat going into the years ahead.”
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