The regeneration of rural Ireland has been a campaign promise for many parties through a number of general elections. Not so long ago a well known rural TD said that he did not want a countryside that was full of “briars, badgers and bullocks” but rather “ full of people, of families” .These comments come as the government launched a new rural regeneration programme “ Our Rural Future,Rural Development Policy 2021-2025”.
The pandemic and the move to remote working has further highlighted the need for rural redevelopment. Rising house and rent prices in urban areas has caused many people to look further afield for homes to by or to rent. There are many websites that showcase rural properties that are available to buy for anyone with a small budget and a talent for DIY. So will the future of rural Ireland look like “ briars, badgers and bullocks” or romantic modern cottages with high speed connectivity?
In recent weeks the government announced their new strategy for rural development. The comprehensive and lengthy policy covers a range of areas including revitalizing rural towns and villages, enhancing public services in rural areas, optimising digital connectivity and transitioning to a climate neutral society. The plan was announced in Croke Park by An Taoiseach Micheál Martin, An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, and Minister for Transport and the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan.
The plan sets out 150 commitments for governments over the next five years over the next five years.The strategy aims to address the issues facing rural communities and promote and deliver new opportunities for those living in rural areas.
The policy documents highlight the opportunity for development the pandemic has offered rural areas; “As we work through the COVID-19 crisis and look to the future, we have an opportunity to reshape our economy and our society in a way which focuses on inclusive, balanced and sustainable economic, social and environmental development.”
The plan also aims to facilitate “worker led” decentralization that will encourage the continuation of working practices that have been enforced by the pandemic. It is thought that 20% of public sector workers will be working remotely or blended working in the office and at home by the end of 2021.Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys said ; “As we recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to reimagine rural Ireland and harness the talent, skills and creativity running through our rural communities.”.
This led to the question of where these new decentralized workers will live, interest in property in rural areas has skyrocketed since the the beginning of the pandemic. The demand has increased but unfortunately the supply has not. Fierce bidding wars are taking place for properties that have not been viewed by the buyers.
The website cheapirishhouses.com offers potential a different perspective from the usual turn key option.The instagram and website showcase houses usually in rural ireland that are under a 100,000 euro. These houses are occupied by a plot of land and outhouses. Classic fireplaces, mature gardens, traditional dresser and historic flagstones can often be found.These houses are remnants of past generations and traditions, demonstrating what was the fabric of Irish society for many decades.The preservation and restoration of these houses may be part of the answer to the lack of housing supply in Ireland.
The rolling lockdowns have given people across the country an opportunity to develop their DIY credentials. There has also been a renewed appreciation of nature and horticulture that may also motivate people to buy one of these properties.
The combination of these three three elements of government policy, rural property and restoration and a rediscovery of practical skills may help to alleviate some of the problems of the Irish housing property market. The dream of a romantic irish cottage by the sea may become a reality for some.