The term sounds innocuous enough but it can raise strong emotions.  In Ireland, it most often refers to the practice of building single homes, often quite large in comparison with nearby traditional farmhouses or cottages, outside urban areas.  Such houses are built along the roads with their own sewage system (septic tank) and their own water from a well or private water scheme.

The concerns raised about such housing is that it tends to spread across the countryside impinging on what otherwise is clean, undeveloped open countryside much admired by tourists and others.  Some go so far as to describe this development as a blight on the landscape.  Others object because the houses are built outside of, or in spite of local, regional, or national planning policies.  Others object to such housing as it is unsustainable, i.e., it is heavily dependent on cars, generating more greenhouse gas emissions than denser residences in urban areas with public transport, and it costs government substantially more to service such housing.   Such housing is similar to what is called, critically, ribbon development in the United States.  Tight planning laws and regulations, and enforcement of same, in the UK, not including Northern Ireland, have prevented one-off housing from proliferating across that countryside.

People in the countryside argue that they are entitled to build homes for their family members, or others, on their land.

Some further ideas to explore on One-Off Housing:

Can you identify a one-off house?  What does it look like?

Take a survey and identify the one-off housing in your area and determine what advantages such houses offer and what disadvantages.

In considering the advantages and disadvantages, don’t forget to include the impact on public interests, not just the impact on the owners of the property.


An Taisce National Trust for Ireland

Frank McDonald and James Nix, Chaos at the Crossroads (Kinsale, Ireland: Gandon Books, 2005).

See Interview with Ian Lumley, An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland, on planning issues, including one-off hopusing, in “Podcasts” section of irish environment

See the iePEDIA entries for “Sustainable Growth” and “Urban Sprawl” in irish environment

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