CLAR­ITY NEEDED ON EU RU­RAL HOUS­ING RUL­ING

Fingal Independent - - NEWS - Fer­gal MAD­DOCK

CLAR­ITY is re­quired on the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice’s rul­ing on ru­ral hous­ing re­stric­tions as soon as pos­si­ble to en­sure there is a ‘fair, rea­son­able and prac­ti­cal pol­icy in place’, ac­cord­ing to a lo­cal Se­na­tor.

The is­sue was raised by Se­na­tor Dr James Reilly last week in light of the news that cur­rent re­stric­tions on ru­ral hous­ing had been struck down.

Se­na­tor Reilly said that while he did not wish to pro­mote a free for all in ru­ral Fin­gal, he said the sit­u­a­tion had cre­ated a lot of anx­i­ety among peo­ple in the area who had ap­proached him be­cause they were strug­gling to get per­mis­sions.

‘We all know how dif­fi­cult it is to get fi­nance and if there is a ques­tion over the va­lid­ity of the on­go­ing per­mis­sion, the banks will not be too keen to lend.’

Speak­ing in the Seanad, Se­na­tor Reilly said: ‘I un­der­stand the court has ruled that un­der the prin­ci­ple of free move­ment of peo­ple within the Euro­pean Union, it is no longer valid or ac­cept­able to re­strict plan­ning per­mis­sion in ru­ral ar­eas to lo­cals and to in­sist that those to whom plan­ning per­mis­sion to con­struct houses will be granted should live in these houses for seven to ten years.

‘When I looked at the Fin­gal devel­op­ment plan map, I counted 26 ar­eas that had been des­ig­nated as ru­ral clus­ters. Only lo­cals can ap­ply for plan­ning per­mis­sion in ar­eas with such a des­ig­na­tion.

‘ The 26 des­ig­nated ar­eas of var­i­ous sizes, from five to pos­si­bly 25 houses, must all be in doubt be­cause of the rul­ing of the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice. Who can ob­tain plan­ning per­mis­sion in these ar­eas?

‘We need clar­ity on the is­sue as soon as pos­si­ble. Un­der the Fin­gal ru­ral hous­ing pol­icy, plan­ning per­mis­sion for close fam­ily mem­bers is re­stricted to two fam­ily mem­bers in the case of farm fam­i­lies and to one fam­ily mem­ber in the case of lo­cal dwellers who are not farm­ers. The rul­ing of the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice has hap­pened and is in place.

‘My un­der­stand­ing is the Gov­ern­ment and the lo­cal author­i­ties must recog­nise the ju­ris­dic­tion of the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice and take the rul­ing into ac­count.

‘Farm fam­i­lies and fam­i­lies liv­ing in ru­ral ar­eas might not be able to raise the fi­nance re­quired to con­struct fam­ily homes in their lo­cal­i­ties if there is a doubt about the le­gal­ity of their abil­ity to ob­tain plan­ning per­mis­sion, or about the le­gal­ity of plan­ning per­mis­sion they have al­ready re­ceived.

‘We need clar­ity and a di­rec­tion on these is­sues in or­der that we will have a fair, rea­son­able and prac­ti­cal ru­ral hous­ing pol­icy in place that will pro­tect the coun­try­side, while al­low­ing farm fam­i­lies and fam­i­lies liv­ing in ru­ral ar­eas to ob­tain plan­ning per­mis­sion.

‘ This is very im­por­tant from the point of view of main­tain­ing ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties and the ex­tended fam­ily. It gives peo­ple the ca­pac­ity to re­main in their homes, while be­ing sup­ported by the fol­low­ing gen­er­a­tion and sup­port­ing them in rais­ing their kids.

In re­sponse En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Si­mon Coveney said that fol­low­ing en­gage­ment be­tween the Euro­pean Commission and his De­part­ment on the 2005 ru­ral hous­ing guide­lines since the court rul­ing, plan­ning author­i­ties were be­ing con­sulted about mak­ing changes to the 2005 guide­lines to en­sure that ru­ral hous­ing poli­cies and ob­jec­tives con­tained in county devel­op­ment plans com­ply with Ar­ti­cle 43 of the treaty on the free­dom of move­ment of cit­i­zens.

He said a work­ing group com­pris­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives of his De­part­ment and plan­ning author­i­ties had been es­tab­lished to re­view and, where nec­es­sary, rec­om­mend changes to the 2005 guide­lines.

‘On con­clu­sion of the group’s re­view and con­sul­ta­tions with the plan­ning author­i­ties, my De­part­ment will en­gage with the Euro­pean Commission on pro­posed changes to the guide­lines, with a view to is­su­ing re­vised guide­lines to plan­ning author­i­ties in due course, and which will likely be is­sued in the form of a cir­cu­lar let­ter to plan­ning author­i­ties.

‘When fi­nalised, the re­vised guide­lines will be is­sued un­der sec­tion 28 of the Plan­ning and Devel­op­ment Act 2000, as amended, and plan­ning author­i­ties, and where ap­pro­pri­ate, An Bord Pleanála, will be re­quired to have re­gard to the re­vised guide­lines in the per­for­mance of their statu­tory func­tions un­der the plan­ning Act. Pend­ing the com­ple­tion of the work­ing group’s de­lib­er­a­tions, which it is in­tended will be con­cluded in the lat­ter half of the year, the ex­ist­ing 2005 guide­lines re­main in place.

Se­na­tor Dr James Reilly

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