Independent TD for Laois Offaly Carol Nolan has called on the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, to provide immediate clarification on exactly when the revised rural housing guidelines for planning authorities will be published.
Deputy Nolan was speaking after the Minister would only confirm that updated guidelines will be available “later in 2021.”
“The Minister talks about the complexity of the issue, the need for environmental assessment and internal and external consultation; but this is precisely the line that has been trotted out by the Department for the last number of years.
"How much longer must rural communities and families who want to build in their local areas be left waiting before a decision is made?
"It is beyond ridiculous at this point.
"In 2019 it was confirmed to me by then Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Damien English that the Working Group established in 2017 to examine the issue of rural housing, including so called ‘One-Off Housing’ had yet to conclude its work.
"It was also confirmed to me in 2019 that the working group had only met four times since May of 2017.
"Now here we are two years later, and we are still waiting for the end result of this seemingly intractable process.
"This does not speak to the kind of urgency that is required on this matter, especially since so many rural families want and need clarity around where they may be able to build a home for themselves or their children.
"It is also clear that under the National Planning Framework policy the concept of encouraging growth in areas that have experienced low population growth or decline in recent decades is supported.
"If that is the case, then why has this government taken so long to deliver the new Rural Planning Guidelines?
"I am therefore calling on the Minister and the Department of Housing to make it clear when we will see the new Guidelines.
"Any significant further delays will only create more frustration and uncertainty to those who need urgent clarity on this important issue," concluded Deputy Nolan.
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