ROI Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy told Selfbuild the “locals only” planning rules are likely to change next year.
Locals-only rules prevent people without proven ties to the community to get planning permission on some greenfield sites, a policy that has led the EU to take legal proceedings against Ireland over a decade ago.
A working group was set up at the start of 2019 but it wasn’t reconvened as planned in September: “While the group did not formally convene in September, discussions and deliberations of officials are ongoing,” a spokesperson for the Department of Housing told Selfbuild in October 2019.
“We’re doing work with the [European] Commission and when that work is completed we will be able to update the guidelines from 2005,” Minister Murphy told Selfbuild at the NZEB Forum in Dublin on the 14th November 2019.
“We’re hoping for progress soon; I don’t think we’re going to see progress before the end of the year unfortunately. But it is a priority for us when it comes to what we’re trying to do with the National Planning Framework.”
“By the end of this year we will have concluded the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies and from the beginning of next year every county has to amend their County Development Plan so that’s a key time for us to come with the revised guidelines and we’ve completed the process with the Commission. It’s very important to us.”
The Department of Housing’s official position as supplied to Selfbuild by the press office, is as follows:
“Following engagement between the European Commission and the Department regarding the European Court of Justice ruling in the “Flemish Decree” case, a working group was established to review and, where necessary, recommend changes to the 2005 Planning Guidelines on Sustainable Rural Housing, issued under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. The working group comprises senior officials from the Planning Division of the Department and senior officials from the Planning Divisions of local authorities, nominated by the local government sector.”
“Taking account of the engagement with the European Commission regarding revisions to the 2005 Rural Housing Guidelines and subject to the completion of the ongoing deliberations by the working group, the Minister will be in a position to finalise and issue to planning authorities revisions to the 2005 Guidelines that take account of the relevant European Court of Justice judgment.”
Update March 2020: Some self-builders fear Meath County Council’s Draft Development Plan 2020-2026 could “mean that one off houses been built in rural areas will be a thing of the past, unless you are actively farming 25 acres or more of land”.