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Work commences on Claremorris modular homes



Oisín McGovern

WORK has commenced on 28 modular houses for Ukrainian refugees at a site in Claremorris. This comes despite county councillors unanimously opposing the development at a special meeting of the local authority during the summer.
Mayo County Council’s Director of Services for Housing Tom Gilligan told The Mayo News that the houses would be used to accommodate refugees staying in the nearby McWilliam Park Hotel.
Mr Gilligan said that the houses would be fit for use within a ‘period of months’.
The OPW-owned site had originally been earmarked for OPW office buildings under the government’s ill-fated decentralisation plan during the 2000s.
The Mayo News understands that Irish Water has received applications for a water and sewerage connection on the Ballyhaunis Road site.
A site notice outside the development states that work had begun on December 14.
Planning permission is not currently required for the construction of modular homes below a certain size.
“There’s probably very little activity on the ground, per se, but the great thing about modular homes … is the speed that those homes can be developed and they can be constructed,” Mr Gilligan said.

‘More sustainable solution’
He described modular housing as ‘a much more sustainable solution’ to accommodating people fleeing the war in Ukraine.
As of December 11, at least 363 Ukrainians refugees had arrived in the Claremorris area.
Local councillors Tom Connolly and Richard Finn recently held a meeting with Mayo County Council and OPW officials where they proposed two nearby plots as alternative sites for modular housing.
One of these is a council-owned site near the McWilliam Park Hotel while the other is owned by local voluntary housing association Clár ICH.
“The problem we have as councillors is that it’s not a council-led project. It’s a government-led project on a government field,” Cllr Connolly told The Mayo News yesterday (Monday). “It’s too close to the town centre. If it was isolated you wouldn’t mind, but it’s right as you approach the town.”
Cllr Connolly said that the council could make money by charging rent for the other sites. He added that the sites were in a more appropriate location due to their proximity to local shops.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar recently said planning reforms would be necessary to make it easier to build social houses.
The government is currently encouraging local authorities to invest in modular homes to provide a rapid supply of new houses.
According to the latest CSO figures, over 3,000 people from Ukraine have arrived in Mayo since the outbreak of the war. Most of these people are being accommodated in B&Bs and hotels.
Tom Gilligan said that Mayo would continue to be able to accommodate refugees during next summer’s tourist season.
“The tourism industry is hugely important for Mayo and we don’t want to jeopardise that. But I genuinely believe the situation will arise where both can exist and cohabit side-by-side.
“I suppose at this time of the year in particular you are seeing much more available accommodation. The vacancy rate is down. To be honest, it is probably making the hotel industry more viable and hotels are generating a greater occupancy rate than they would in a normal winter.”


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