How does the building of individual houses in rural areas fit into the national spatial strategy plan?

The National Spatial Strategy is due to be published by the government shortly. Many people are hoping for an easing of restrictions when it comes to building homes in rural areas on family land.

For over 200 years, generations of the McCabe family have lived in a scenic spot in the Dublin mountains. Mary McCabe also wants to live there so that she can rear her son close to the rest of her family. Mary McCabe planned to build a home on a plot of land her father left to her. Although the site is next to the original family home the county council has refused planning permission to build six times.

Mary McCabe describes herself as an ordinary working person and says she cannot afford to buy a house in the area. Frustrated that she is not allowed to build a house on a piece of land left to her by her father Mary McCabe lives in a mobile home on the site to assist with the care of her elderly mother and aunt.

I've been reared here and I really really want to have my house here.

She is determined not to give up and is in the process of preparing her seventh planning application.

Mary's mother, Maura McCabe, says that she depends on Mary and needs her nearby.

The main objection to planning permission relate to additional traffic movement on Woodside Road which makes no sense to Mary McCabe as she is already living there and using the entrance from the road.

While people may feel that the planning process is too strict in rural areas, the conservation body An Taisce believes that the restrictions should be even stricter. Ian Lumley of An Taisce says that too many one-off houses are being built in rural Ireland in what has become known as the bungalow blitz. He believes it must be stopped on environmental grounds.

Historian Professor Seamus Caufield argues that one-off housing is in keeping with the Irish tradition of the dispersed village. The vast majority of these houses are being built by people who have a connection with the area.

They're actually part of the tradition that goes back in Ireland for five and a half thousand years and is a continuous unbroken tradition.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 19 November 2002. The reporter is Anne Marie Smyth.