Calls for transparency on changes to rural housing restrictions

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The Minister for Housing should clearly outline any changes that he intends to make to rural housing guidelines ahead of the upcoming local elections one Galway TD is insisting.

One-off rural housing developments in Ireland often carry very stringent requirements that a person have a strong connection to a local area in order to be granted planning permission.

That is expected to change following on from a ruling by the European Court of Justice in 2013 pm the ‘Flemish Decree’, which restricted housing to Flemish speakers in many cases to preserve culture, declaring it to be against EU law.

Galway West TD Eamon Ó Cuív has accused the Minister of holding off on publishing upcoming revisions to the 2005 rural housing guidelines until after the elections because of the “detrimental effect” they will have on rural Ireland.

A specialist group was established in 2017 to examine the decision of the ECJ and any changes that would need to be made to guidelines issued to planning authorities on the back of it.

“The Minister said that he expects to be in a position to shortly finalise and issue to planning authority revisions to the 2005 rural housing guidelines that take account of the relevant ECJ judgement,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.

“It is my suspicion that the Minister is holding off issuing these guidelines, because of the detrimental effect they will have on rural Ireland, until after the forthcoming local elections.”

He added that the government should be upfront about the proposed changes to the National Housing Guidelines and the effect they will have on housing policy for local authorities.

The Fianna Fáil TD finished by saying this should take place before the local elections in May “so that the electorate get a democratic choice to vote on the policies of the Government in this regard.”

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