Delay to locals only changes

The ROI Department of Housing’s plan to publish a draft revision to the 2005 Rural Housing Planning Guidelines in June has been postponed, and is now slated for “later in 2021”, Selfbuild has learned.

“Updated Rural Housing Planning Guidelines are currently being prepared that will continue to allow for the development of homes in rural areas while also highlighting the need to manage certain areas around cities and towns in order to avoid over-development of those areas,” a spokesperson told Selfbuild late June.

“Given the complexity of the issues involved, the need for environmental assessment and both internal and external consultation, the Minister expects final updated guidelines to be available later in 2021.”

The rural housing guidelines are the basis on which local authorities can prevent people that do not come from the local area from building their home on a greenfield site.

The battle to change this requirement has been going on for over a decade, with the EU initiating proceedings against Ireland back in 2007.

The Department had previously signalled it was going to make the draft revised guidelines public in June.

UPDATE August 2021: from the Department of Housing press office: “The aim is to publish the new guidelines later this year, but it is not expected to happen before November. Departmental workload, environmental assessment considerations and public consultation will all be factors in this timeline.”

The Department has in fact just published a public consultation on the Draft Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Development Plans; of interest to rural housing policy is Section 6.2.7 Zoning for Rural Areas. Submissions are now open and the public consultation closes on Friday 8th October 2021 at 5pm.

UPDATE May 2022: The Department of Housing tells Selfbuild it may or may not request an environmental assessment. In a statement from the press office:

“The guidelines are at an advanced stage of drafting. Screening for Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and for the purposes of Appropriate Assessment (AA) is underway. Following the completion of the environmental assessments, the draft guidelines will be placed on display for a focused period of public consultation. The timeline for publication of the guidelines in draft form will be dependent on the time taken to complete the environmental assessments and on whether full SEA and AA processes are required.”

UPDATE November 2022: Minister of State for Planning and Local Government Peter Burke indicated the guidelines would be published before Christmas. The proposal, it seems, will be very similar to what’s in place now. Areas susceptible to sprawl will not get planning permission but you will be able to build out in the countryside if you work on a farm or in a rural-based enterprise, and have been living in the area for at least 10 to 15 years.

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Written by Astrid Madsen

Astrid Madsen is the editor of the SelfBuild magazine. Email

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