Open plan may please some architects but the residents of a council estate in Clonaslee want garden walls.
Clodiagh Way, an estate of 18 semi-detached houses, was built five years ago by Laois County Council in an open plan style, with no walls between the small front gardens.
The frustrated tenants say this does not work, and are fearing for their childrens’ safety, as the estate is on the busy Tullamore road.
Chairperson of the residents association Mary Murphy says the situation will only be resolved by walls.
“My 17 month old would climb out to the other side of a wooden fence. If we had a wall at least I could put up a gate and keep that closed. I have to keep my front door locked all the time to keep him safe. Some of the cars fly along that road,” she said.
Ms Murphy says cars are being damaged in gardens, and there is a lack of privacy and security.
“Whoever designed it, it might be lovely to look at, but it’s not lovely to live in. Cars are being destroyed with scratches from bikes and go karts. Are the council prepared to pay to respray my car? We haven’t got an ounce of privacy. You could be sitting down to watch television and you could have six or seven kids looking in your window. When you tell them to get out, they say ‘it’s not your property, it’s the council’s’,” she said.
A petition of 24 names has been handed to the council, seeking dividing walls and pillars. They are prepared to foot part of the cost themselves. A similar request was refused last year.
“We are just looking for permission to build them. We are that determined, I could see some people going ahead anyway,” Ms Murphy said.
At last Monday’s Mountmellick area meeting, councillors called for the walls to be built by the council.
“It’s like a commons up there, children are going on the road, it’s more than dangerous. A good committee is keeping the place really well, what would it cost?” asked Cllr McDonald.
“This is a serious situation, 95 per cent of these are social houses, they are paying their rent, it’s a health and safety issue. This estate was built with no plans for children coming afterwards, we have to get funding before someone is knocked down and killed,” said Cllr Goodwin.
Council engineer Tom O’Carroll agreed to speak with the Director of Services and come back with a response within a fortnight.