Locals-only rules from the 2005 Rural Housing Guidelines remain in place until further notice, the Department of Housing told Selfbuild.
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 ten years ago.
“The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Ireland in 2007 regarding discriminatory restrictions on the granting of dwelling authorisations in Ireland,” the European Commission told Selfbuild. “The Commission has since been in contact with the Irish authorities.”
That same infringement case is still open and in 2016, the Irish authorities informed the Commission of their intention to review the rules. Once new rules are notified to the Commission, the Commission services will assess them and decide on the next steps.
“Discussions are still ongoing with the local authority sector on the revision of the Rural Housing Guidelines, specifically the local needs criteria therein,” a Department of Housing spokesperson told Selfbuild.
“It is hoped that the revisions will be finalised in the coming months, by year end at the latest, after which revised guidelines will be issued to planning authorities.”
Taking into account the need for consultation with the European authorities, Selfbuild understands this means revised guidelines for the local authorities are unlikely to come to light until 2018.
In May 2017 the Oirechtas Library & Research Service published the EU’s position on the Flemish case, which is cited as the basis for removing locals-only rules in Ireland.
“The [Law Society] authors state that discriminatory measures framed around family connections to an area are likely to be found to breach EU law, as the purposes they are intended to achieve (such as preserving rural characteristics etc.) can usually be attained without such discrimination,” summarised the Oireachtas note.
However Galway Councillor Jim Cuddy told Selfbuild he was hopeful a circular would be issued to local authorities in the second half of this year, instructing them to remove the locals-only requirement from their development plans.
Publication of Help to Buy review delayed
The review into the Help to Buy scheme, meanwhile, has also been delayed. The report is expected to inform the Cabinet on whether or not to scrap the scheme in this year’s budget.
A spokesperson for the Department of Finance told Selfbuild the Minister of Finance had yet to see the report. The publication date, he said, is “a matter for the Minister [of Finance]”.
The Minister for Housing had indicated in June that the report would be published today (31st August).
Selfbuild Live Cork is the ultimate showcase for people who are building, extending, improving or simply decorating their home. Selfbuild Live Cork, 10th-11th November takes place in the Green Glens Arena, Millstreet, Cork.
Update 14th December 2018: Seems we’re now looking at the first half of 2019. The Department of Housing told Selfbuild: “The Working Group meeting scheduled for 12 December had to be cancelled as some of the local authority representatives were unavailable at the last minute due to having to deal with urgent local issues. The Department did not wish to proceed with the meeting without the widest local authority input. The meeting will be rescheduled for mid-January 2019. The Department has indicated to the local authority representatives that it wishes to have a further meeting before end January with a view to bringing the deliberations on the revised Guidelines to a conclusion as quickly as possible.”
Update 15th Feb 2019: Statement from the press office:
“The January meeting of the working group took place and the work of the group is ongoing. There is not date for when the Guidance to LAs might issue.
Further to the January meeting, no meetings are planned in the immediate future but will be scheduled in due course.
We don’t yet have a date / specific timeline for when [the working group’s] work will be completed.”
Update 5th April 2019: Statement from the press office:
“There are no meetings scheduled at present due to other pressing business commitments in the section, but it is intended to resume the Working Group meetings as soon as possible.
I’m afraid there is no update to the below:
Taking account of the engagement with the European Commission on the matter 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 Rural Housing Guidelines that take account of the relevant European Court of Justice judgment.”