Farm Ireland

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Could restrictions on 'outsiders' getting planning in rural areas be lifted?

Anne Lucey

The Irish county with some of the most stringent planning restrictions on one-off housing will have to immediately revise its county development and local area plans and loosen up planning restrictions, councillors have said.

The warnings are being sounded in the wake of a ruling from the European Court of Justice which found that locals only type clauses are contrary to European law.

Thousands of holiday and second homes were built in the Kerry countryside during the so-called boom and zoning in Kerry has been engineered to prevent “urban generated pressure,” with a complete ban on outsiders in the rural settlement strategy in pressurised areas under the 2015-2021 county development plan.

There is a complete ban too on one-off holiday and second homes in the countryside, while holiday homes are confined to villages to protect the landscape and to try to undo some of the sporadic deterioration of the boom.

Occupancy clauses of least seven years are a condition of planning for applicants.

People from adjacent townlands can fall into the 'outsider' category, such are the restrictions under the county development and local area plans, councillors say.

People, although originating from the area, who are not working locally have no hope of planning in the countryside under current restrictions.

Killarney Independent councillor Donal Grady who two weeks ago drew management’s attention to the ruling said the development plans will have to be changed “immediately”. And he fears the council may be sued by applicants who were turned down for planning – or people who wanted to sell sites to get out of financial difficulty.

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“The prohibitions are totally illegal,” Cllr Grady said.

The matter came to light following a meeting of Cllr Grady’s independent councillor grouping and he and other councillors have taken legal advice and been told the ruling is applicable in Kerry and other counties, he said.

Meanwhile, the TD Danny Healy-Rae said urban generated ban on rural housing was preventing rural people too from building locally.

He and his daughter Cllr Maura Healy-Rae who replaced him on the Killarney Municipal District, are currently dealing with six cases in the Killarney area – in  Muckross, Aghadoe, Tiernaboul and Kilcummin in which local applicants have been refused planning for one-off houses.

In Muckross the son of a local family cannot get planning permission 400 yards from his parents’ home, the TD said. 

“The policy is discriminatory. The policy is wrong. Before ever this ruling came to light from Europe I have said it was wrong.”

He has held meetings with management in the past few weeks and is waiting for a response.

There has been no official comment from the council management on the matter, but it is understood a response to deal with the possible repercussions is being formulated.

In the boom years, between 2002 and 2007, some 7,600 one-off houses were built in the countryside in Kerry.

In May in 2013 the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg  found the Flemish decree on land and real estate policy whereby anyone building or buying property had to have “a sufficient connection” to the commune or local area was contrary to European Law.

There had been attempts in Belgium to annul the law, before it was brought to the European Court.

Online Editors