In the 1970’s Jack Fitzsimons brought out a book called Bungalow Bliss. It was basically a book of ideas and designs for the amateur self-builder or architect. The amazing thing is that this tome of amateur architecture has been used as a benchmark for professionals up to the present day. We at the Log House Company can only assume that when they were handing out degrees in the 60’s and 70’s that aesthetics were way down on the list. We have seen ugly cement rendered bungalows held up as the local standard. Planners even have the nerve to class the bungalow as our traditional design – nothing came before and by God nothing will come after. I have seen Planning Applications refused for stone houses, log houses and thatched roofs because they were out of keeping or character with local style. When you visit the area to see what they are talking about, all you can see is an assortment of styles and a mishmash of designs, colour and landscaping.
Cement render finish with plastic windows, doors and fascias rounds off this traditional style.
“They lie scattered haphazardly across the Irish countryside. To some, they represent a horrific, cancerous blight, an evil design slung in manic disarray onto our fertile, green land. To others, up to one-third of the Irish population, they are the “preferred dwelling” and an integral part of what makes us who we are”.
In an interview with Lars Pettersson of Scandinavian Homes in The Local Planet <a href= “http://localplanet.ie/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=203&Itemid=53”></a>
he understands the Irish psyche “Most Swedish people think it is a strange thing to build and live in a concrete house. Concrete is what military bunkers were made of. An Irish person thinks that a wooden house is a strange thing to live in because they remember the pre-fab they went to school in with wind blowing through and falling apart.”
The average person is now aware of different building solutions, especially eco friendly sustainable and carbon neutral materials and buildings. So why are Planning Authorities not interested in change? It was only recently that the penny dropped. They all went to the “College of Concrete” where the lecturers had shares in Roadstone and Irish Cement.
In an interview with Gerry McCaughey of Century Homes he stated:
“When we started out we were told you will never sell wooden houses to the Irish. But 13 years on, we are in a situation where timber-frame houses will take 50 per cent of the market”.
Kingspan Century have just developed a Carbon Neutral house, which is timber clad. It’s interesting that as an Irish company they developed this house in England. I can see the Planning Authorities running around the offices screaming “What are we going to do to save the bungalow”?
Because of their arrogance and inability to change, County Council SEO’s should be forced into a re-education programme every few years. We should have a system of name and shame – where ugly and unsustainable planning developments are displayed alongside the name of the planner who granted the permission. They hold huge responsibility for the future of this country and have a flagrant disregard for any discussion for good sustainable development. Lets hope that we don’t have to wait for this generation of planners to retire, because they still have the potential to further damage any progressive Development Plan for our future.