Minister for Planning and Local Government Peter Burke TD met the President and Officers of Marca na Feirme today, together with Senator Tim Lombard, to discuss the issue of one-off housing and rural planning. The Committee of Macra wanted to discuss this issue after negative publicity and social media messages recently circulating, stating that one-off housing was to be banned from next March – statements which Minister Burke said were patently untrue.
“Rural housing has traditionally made up 25% of all housing output in this country and there are no plans to change this whatsoever” stated the Mullingar Chartered Accountant.
“While we need to ensure there is a minimum threshold that is met to avoid irresponsible policy, there continues to be capacity within our National Planning Framework to allow for those who live and work in the countryside to build their homes close to their families and their place of work.
“I have seen online messages stating that one-off housing applications from next March will be refused, which is false. I’m not sure where this idea came from, as there has been no change to how our planning system works of late. Planning permissions continue to be adjudicated on by our Local Authorities in line with the housing policy laid out in County Development Plans. These plans are the backbone of our local planning system, and are voted on by County and City Councillors over a two year process.
The plans are currently being finalised, and each county and city has jurisdiction within their own Local Authority area to apply a policy with regards housing and settlement. The plans must be in line with our National Planning Framework and passed by the Office of the Planning Regulator, a process which is underway. I am also reviewing the Rural Housing Guidelines, and expect a draft to go out to public consultation later this year.
“Approximately 85% of all one-off housing planning permissions are granted every year, and this housing plays an important role in accommodating our growing population. These houses are held to high environmental standards before permission is granted, with percolation, effluent disposal, sight lines and house design all being taken into account. It is not a free for all, and Local Authorities will look for a social or economic reason to grant permission, such as working in the local community or family ties.
“As someone from a rural constituency raised on a family farm I want to put on record that the Government acknowledges the important role played by rural housing and that my party continues to recognise the pivotal part it plays in sustaining our rural communities. Every one of our Local Authorities has to increase output significantly over the coming years in efforts to tackle our housing crisis, and while compact growth within our cities must be emphasised and invested in, there is room for rural housing to continue to contribute to the overall solution”.